Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Historic Moment

I was texting Elle back and forth last night about how surreal it is that a black man is the legitimate nominee of a major political party for the President of the United States. Whether you voted for him or not, that is such a HUGE step forward for this country.

The first thing we both talked about was how surreal it was but also, how scared we were for him. My mother is terrified for him. The cynic in many of us wonders if "they" will really let him be elected. Will "they" really allow him to be their president.

My parents got married in 1965. They met in Germany and decided to marry when my father, who was in the US Army, was being moved to Virginia, just outside of DC. At the time it was illegal for them to get married there, so they had to do it in my father's hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. My mother is still hurt by the hatred she witnessed (as I'm sure my father is, but he's never been very vocal about it) and the vitriol of which she was on the receiving end. Not only was she white and married to a black man, but she was a foreigner with a funny accept - and GERMAN at that, and she had a white child who was calling a black man "Daddy". I say all this to point out that I get why so many from my parent's generation are scared for Obama.

Yet it's interesting that, even in the face of record numbers of people who voted in the Democratic primaries and record total tallied (for Clinton too), that it's still hard for many of us to think in so-called postracial ways. It's interesting we, too, given our experiences with racism are concerned for his safety. Clearly we have made strides since my parents got married. Yet, clearly our generation has been scarred by our own experiences that show there is a long way to go. I read somewhere a while back (can't name the source) that Obama's candidacy will bring out a LOT of the "Awww-hell-no" vote. The "there's no way in hell a black man/"muslim"/radical black christian/foreigner will be my president" vote. Just how big is that constituency? And just how far are some members of that constituency willing to go to make sure it doesn't happen?

3 comments:

Brian said...

I'm worried about it too. I expect we'll see a lot more of these kinds of stories in the coming months, adn I'll be really surprised if there isn't at least one open attempt on Obama's life before the election. Hell yes I'm scared, but I'm also thrilled at the possibilities. It's a time I never thought I'd see.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I get concerned too... but, then I also think about the fact that the Excell Center in St. Paul held 19,000, and 15,000 couldn't get in to see him -- on a rainy Tuesday night in a very white state....

I was lucky enough to be inside. The atmosphere was really amazing. The African American folks were pretty much in awe of the fact that this country, which has done so much to harm them, has found a black man good enough to be a candidate for President.

Whoever "they" are, they've got to be the most ignorant among us... becuase, about now, I'm feeling pretty good about the majority of us...

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

What amazes me the most is that I, a Southern white female, have to be reminded that Obama is black. I grew up in a racist little town and Black and White labels meant everything. I've always been somewhat of a rebel there, having blacks friends and colleagues and voting for whoever, based on their positions and qualifications and NOT based on race. I think about race. I work in the criminal justice system, and it's impossible not to. But imagine my surprise when I entered the voting booth and thought, "3 candidates who support MY issues...I'm so excited" and NOT "a black guy, a woman, and a white attorney." It was liberating.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...