Wednesday, November 5, 2008


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?


Josh said...

Ironic, considering your language which I've favored in the past, that it's the African-American vote that is largely being blamed, with reason, for the passage of Prop 8.

Shtetl Fabulous said...

To see a really astounding breakdown of the Prop 8 vote by demographics such as age, race, income, etc. check out this site:

I am utterly in shock that 70% of blacks voted in favor of Prop 8 when they themselves may have been victims of miscegenation laws that restricted their rights to marry.

of course, 62% of first time voters wisely voted no.

Liz said...

As a California lesbian who has been on the forefront of the fight for equality for years, I am deeply saddened by the results of Prop 8.

But as an American, I could not be happier about the presidential election results.

Thanks for your informative and articulate post.

jill hersh said...

Are we really putting the blame on the black community? Really? How about all of the religious organizations (45% of the funding came from the Mormons in Utah) or the fundamentalists who want to make this an issue?

So please, stop making the connection between one opressed community with another. It is unfair to each. This is a civil issue not a race issue.

Everybody comes back to the “70% support” for Prop 8 among black voters. What gets ignored is, blacks only made up 10 percent of the total number of voters, anyway. Latinos, who voted for Prop 8 by a 53-47 margin, only made up 18 percent of that number. Guess what? Whites still constitute 70 percent of said voting population, and the measure only failed with them by two percentage points.

Moreover, while California had more registered voters than ever before — the AP reported more than 17 million people around the state — only about 5 million of them actually voted for this specific proposition. Seven million Californians didn’t vote at all on the issue

Anonymous said...

As a Black woman I am not surprised by the Prop 8 results. Many Blacks are not as liberal as some may think, despite the affects of the miscegenation laws of the past. These are two separate issues.

Let me digress a bit. To align the right of gays with the disenfranchisement of African Americans is unfair. The issues simply do not coalesce. After listening to Keith Olbermann’s commentary about Prop 8, and the antics of Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. I am offended at the assumption that African Americans should lead the charge of equilibrium when we are still fighting for equality. Can I at least get use to having a Black President? Excuse me, I meant bi-racial. Once again history has repeated itself as it did during the Civil Rights movement when feminist groups aligned themselves with the plight of African Americans devaluing our fight for equality. The last time I looked Black woman are still getting paid less than white woman, the achievement gap has gotten wider, predatory lending in communities of color is rampant, the disproportionate numbers of African American males in the prison system is escalating, not to mention a corporate enterprise, and the foster care system?? Man don’t get me started. I digressed enough for now.

I believe culture and religion was the heavy weight of the decision. I for one grew up in a household where an “alternative lifestyle” would not be acceptable. And it’s evident by the vote that little has changed. I think for Blacks homosexuality is an act more so than a state of being, and anything beyond the “Down Low” would be asking too much.

Do I believe gay and lesbians have the right to be who they are without prejudice? Absolutely—just don’t ask me to vote on it.

Shannel I'm glad we can agree to disagree.