The day after

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Barak Obama was elected president last night.

It was an amazing moment.  Amazing is too generic a term, and not powerful enough, but I don’t know what else to say.  People on TV, people in the room with us and I had tears in our eyes.  Even listening to people talk about the election this morning brought new tears to my eyes.

Why was it so amazing?  There is the historical significance of having the first African-American president.  That, in and of itself, is something that I never thought I would see in my life time.  Not only is he African-American, but he is multi-racial, with a white mid-western mother and a Kenyan father. He had a single mother, was partially raised by his grandparents, and lived abroad for parts of his life.  He embodies the America that I want to believe in.  You do not need to adhere to a strict code of race, religion or family structure to achieve success, gain power and accumulate social capital.  His success lets me know that my children, with their absent father and mixed ethnicity, can also achieve great things in this country.  He gives me hope that we, Ayrie, Shiya and I have not lost before we’ve even begun to create our lives and futures together.

I can not imagine what was like to be an African-American in this country watching Barak Obama accept the presidential nomination last night.  To be a person who is told repeatedly, even daily, both directly and indirectly that ‘you can’t… you aren’t… you won’t…. because of the color of your skin… because of a minute genetic difference…. to see an African American on stage saying “yes we can” and to have millions of people across the country chanting with him, crying in gratitude, joy an disbelief… it has to be a deep and transformative experience.  Although obviously not African-American myself, my boys are mixed and when I see Barak Obama I think about this impact that this will have on their future as they navigate through this race conscious culture.

I struggle a lot with money, with day care, with health care, with education… demands that many families across America struggle with, particularly those with low-incomes, or single parents.  I see and feel things get harder and harder for others and for myself.  With Bush in office is seemed interminable.   But with Obama I feel hope again.  I feel a small glimmer of relief.  I feel a tiny lightening of my burden, however slight and tentative.  While I do not yet believe with my heart that things will get easier, I have a feeling that they might… and this means quite a lot to me.

And I trust him.  I trust him to be intelligent.  I trust him to seek counsel and to ask for different opinions, before making important decisions.  I trust him to be honest and straightforward.  This is in start contrast to George Bush, where I literally felt it to be worthless to listen to him speak, because nothing he said was actually the truth.  He may have spoken versions of the truth, but you could never disentangle the truth from the fiction, the fact from the propaganda.

So what changes do I hope for?  I hope for affordable healthcare.  I hope for radical changes in our public school system.  I hope for a new respect for humanity.  I hope to improve our relationships with other countries and cultures.  Let me stop there before I get too carried away 🙂

How do you feel?  What does Barak Obama’s victory mean to you?  Please leave comments!!

With hope and admiration,

Nora

(written on an airplane to Denver, CO)