I wrote this post, titled “Change,” a couple of days before the 2008 election. On this day — Election Day — I’m just as moved as I was four years ago. This post is one that makes me thankful for this blog. This snapshot of words documents my thoughts and feelings in a broader, societal context. I have these words as a testament for my children. My words crystallize the significance of Obama’s election into the presidency as it applies to our family’s unique heritage. This is my graffiti on history’s wall which says, “I was here.”
I’m still here. We voted for Change in 2008, and we got it. I hope that tonight’s election allows us to move Forward.
“Change” ~ originally published November 4, 2008
I’m relatively young, of legal voting age for only the three elections before this one (I’m 30 – you can stop multiplying and subtracting now). I’ll be honest; I wasn’t so concerned about voting in the past years, so I didn’t. Furthermore, I wasn’t overwhelmingly thrilled with the candidates, especially not in the ’04 election. I’ve always followed the races and examined the candidates’ platforms. I’ve been interested in the presidential elections as a chronological marker of a shift in America’s history, but not so moved that I’ve been motivated to fulfill my civic duty and vote. But this year, I’ve been affected by the same seismic charge that has rumbled other casual observers like myself into political action. These days are kinetic, and the results of tomorrow’s voting will be an electrifying shock to the American system one way or the other.
What isn’t shocking, though, is that there is a very real possibility that we may have an African-American as president. President. It would have been shocking back in ’62, which was the year that my mother, with the whole class watching, was called a nigger by her second grade teacher in the newly-integrated elementary school.
It would have been doubly-shocking in ’72 when Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party African-American candidate for the presidency.
It would have been moderately shocking in the ’84 and ’88 races of Jesse Jackson. Not ever really expected to win, what successes he did achieve were still considered “surprising” for “a Black man”.
But now, Obama is just this close away from the presidency. What I find the most remarkable about this election is that Obama is esteemed for being a man. Just a man. The fact that he is African-American is almost secondary, which speaks as much of America as it does of Obama. America surely has plenty of room for left for growth in the non-discrimination department, but I think that this election is a wide stretch of proof that we are slowly but surely headed in the right direction.
All of that said, HOLY SHIT – an African-American might be president! In one generation’s time we’ve moved from segregated classrooms to a Black man currently in the election lead. We are on the brink of a monumental event in the chain of Black History. My great-grandmother, who passed away when I was pregnant with the twins, saw days when an African-American couldn’t be president. My children are living days when an African-American is leading a presidential race and hopefully will be president.
If you voted (and you damn well better have), did you go out to the polls today, or did you go vote early? Frank and I voted last Friday and were in and out in 20 minutes. We waited until Election Day in 2008 and waited almost three hours. What was your Election Day experience like this year? (It has always been my dream that while waiting in line to vote, the Democrats and Republicans start arguing, then break out into a battle a la Sharks vs. Jets. Instead of punches, we throw snaps, circle the opposition with choreographed footwork, and mean-mug each other.)