The last two years have crystallized in an incredibly powerful way for me in the last 24 hours. The news of the country's decision to elect Barack Obama as our 44th President of the United States still sends shivers down my spine. It's hard to distill all my thoughts, feelings and ideas into a really coherent post and I know bloggers the world over have a tremendous amount to digest over the next few days. Here's my attempt at getting my head around this amazing time in our history.
1. For many of my peers born after 1979, this is the first election we have voted in where the candidate we voted for actually won!
2. Michelle Obama is not the new Jackie Kennedy. The woman has a Harvard Law Degree. I think she will be more of a Eleanor Roosevelt/Hillary Rodham Clinton hybrid with a much better wardrobe and haircut. To have a woman with a formidable mind, who raises two young children and is an equal partner to her husband, all while sporting a fabulous look - I'm inspired!
3. How dare people boo at the McCain rally! John McCain fought a really tough battle and while I recognize their sense of loss, they have no right to then push their candidate into a corner defending Obama (again). I have to say that McCain's speech was very touching and brought a tear to my eye. He sounded like he did back in 2000 - when he may have been a really fantastic president.
4. I recognize that Barack Obama is going to make a few mistakes and I hope the country as a whole will be able to say that too. But none of those mistakes merit calls for impeachment, censure or assassination.
5. I would be remiss if I didn't talk about race in this post. As a white woman who encountered minimal racism until her adult years, I feel inept in discussing the ramifications of this election for the African-American community. So rather than fumble through it, I'll leave that piece to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his essay this afternoon on NPR.
Here's an excerpt... "But there is one thing we can proclaim today without question: that the election of Sen. Barack Obama as president of the United States of America means that The Ultimate Color Line has, at long last, been crossed. It has been crossed by our very first postmodern Race Man, a man who embraces his African cultural and genetic heritage so securely that he can transcend it, becoming the candidate of choice to tens of millions of Americans who look nothing at all like him."
6. As we celebrate today the obstacles overcome in the frontier of race, I cannot ignore the disturbing, frustrating and saddening results of many state ballot measures regarding gay marriage, including the nefarious Prop 8. Outside California, Florida, Arkansas and my home state of Arizona shamefully passed dehumanizing legislation either amending their state constitutions to ban gay marriage or limiting the rights of homosexuals.
In 40 years from now, though maybe sooner, as our country elects its first openly-gay president, don't we want to be there - crying tears of joy at the battles we fought? We have had an MLK to a lesser degree in Harvey Milk (biopic due soon), and our Oprah in Ellen. But where will our Jesse Jackson come from? Our Shirley Chisholm? Are we going to march on Selma? On Washington? This is our civil rights battle and I hope that 40 years from now, I can talk to a young person and tell him/her what I did when the call came.
Will you answer the call?