Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Not Yes We Can, But Yes We Did!
It has only been an hour or so since Fox News called the game. I figured if Fox News conceded, then it was definitely over. Barack Obama, the first black to be nominated for President, has won the Presidential election.
A few minutes ago I watched as John McCain manned up and got his concession speech out of the way quickly. In my opinion a very good speech. I would say the best one I heard from him this whole campaign. Gone were the idiotic talking points, accusations, and denigrating commentary. It was a classy speech and John made me feel he meant every word. John almost looked relieved as he spoke. I honestly do not think he ran the campaign he wanted to, but was part of one he never felt at home in.
I am in wonder now. I am more than a little befuddled. Just about the time I am sure this country has really gone off the deep end, we pull a stunt like this election. I was sure we would elect a woman as President long before we elected a Black. I was sure we would probably vote in a Latino before a Black also. As it turns out I had a more negative view of White America than Barack did. He has proven to be a better man than I this day. He refused to buy into the race card when many if not most of us, white and black, had resigned ourselves to tolerance without inclusion. Obama would have none of it.
By not buying, using, or pandering to the Race Card, Barack Obama figured out how to make many of us forget his color and listen to what he was saying. He didn't care that he was Black. He expected us to not care either. And somehow he pulled it off. He convinced enough of us that his vision could be our vision. I sit here convinced that this truly Historic event is but a beginning. And even though I am not all that comfortable with one party in control of the whole ship so to speak, maybe it is time for us to throw our support behind just one for awhile. If they are smart and lucky, America may be in for good times once again.
When I was in sixth grade living in Tallahassee, Florida in the early 1960s, everything was segregated. I went to an all white public school, all fancy and new. Yet I lived just on the right side of the tracks so to speak and not far from me was the black school that taught the blacks in my area. Run down wooden building with dirt dooryard and broken playground equipment.
The Blacks had their own movie theater. I discovered this the hard way. The theater was just up the street and shortly after we moved there I went to the movies. I went in and sat down. Just about the time I noticed there seemed to be no other white folks there but me, a deep black voice behind me said, "Boy, you might want to leave this theater. I wouldn't want you to get hurt." I turned and every black face in the row was looking at me hard. They were not friendly faces. I left quickly. My racial education was just beginning.
I was ostracized at school for several reasons. One was I was the new kid. That one I could handle. I grew up always being the new kid. But the one that really got me was I had been caught hanging out with a black kid on the FSU campus by one of my classmates. The black kid was the son of one of the maids who worked at the motel my dad managed. I had to dot a couple of eyes before they let me alone over that one.
Since I lived outside the school district lines and theoretically in the black distric, I had to take public buses to school. It meant a 45 minute plus ride to and from school every day. The back of the bus was where I wanted to ride but couldn't. It was explained to me by the bus driver (a black) that white folk sat up front. "Why?" I asked him. He shrugged and mumbled something about it being the way it was. Needless to say, when I left Tallahassee I never looked back. Bigotry had been forced down my throat and I did not like it.
I discovered that every facet of life in Tallahassee was broken down into two cultures. The two cultures did not interact with each other except in the work place and very few public buildings. The Library had white fountains and black fountains. White bathrooms and black bathrooms. Even the State Capitol building was segregated. For a white boy raised in the integrated military, my year plus in Tallahassee was an eye opener.
I lived with the shame of segregation. I felt the hate of both races as I tried to understand in my 12 year old mind just what the Hell was the problem. I did not understand it then and I still don't. To me, the worst indicator of a man's character is the color of his skin. And finally a man has shown up and rammed this point home throughout all of America. Finally a man has emerged who has taken our stupid stratified society and shaken it to it's core.
So this election has special meaning to me. I never thought I would see this day in my lifetime. No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, be proud of what America did this day. That's it. Just be proud America.