Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're the Ones We've Been Waiting For....

Today I received in the mail oldest son's issue of Vibe magazine. He is 20 years old and usually I just lay it on his bed, sure in the knowledge that our reading interests rarely merge. Today was different. Today the issue had Barack Obama on the cover with the headline
"Dear Vibe Readers, I am running for president to take this country in a new direction. But I can't do it alone. I need you."
I read the editor's note, and noticed she ended her passage by saying, "We're the ones we've been waiting for."

I sat and contemplated this single sentence for a while. Just sitting at my computer and thinking and thinking and thinking. And I thought, June Jordan was right.


I am a Black Woman. I teach at at a high school where we are 85% Black, 10% Latino, and 5% White. All of my high school classes are Black and I do my damnedest to teach them about being proud of where they come from, who they are, and where they are going. Everyday, I feel, in the words of that old spiritual, that I'm on the battlefield, attempting to help them understand the true GREATNESS that comes with being Black.

This is a task unto itself, for they have been taught they have so many things to be ashamed of, and the primary "thing" is their Blackness. To be Black, they've learned, is to be at the bottom of every barrel (socio economic, education, legal system etc.) They've learned that it is dangerous to want more, to do more, to be more. And I am here, trying to help them unlearn that, emphasizing--in my kids' cases--that it is okay NOT to want to use your body or step on someone else's to "get money," that it is okay use your mind, which is the greatest gift they are blessed with, not just to "get money," but to "get knowledge," to "get empowered."

I wish they could see in themselves what I see in them... that We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For. That potential and possibility are in our very souls--that when we were not allowed to attend public schools with white students; we built our own elementary and junior high/high schools, our own universities and we educated our own students and these students went on to become world leaders. We did that because we were a prideful people who were able to take care of our own.

And with that in mind, I agree that we ARE the ones we have been looking for. From the Harriet Tubmans like myself, trying to lead my students to freedom from the jails they have created within their minds, to the Martin Luther Kings, trying to help us as a people realize we can achieve our life goals without violence, to the Fannie Lou Hamers, standing up for what we believe is right and just. Oh yes, WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!

And so I return to the Vibe article and to the Obama candidacy. I think it is especially apt that Obama invoked that line long, long months ago. No, I do not believe Obama will be able to right every wrong in America, but I do believe that between him and McCain, Obama is the best man for the job.

And, yes, I believe in so many ways, he is the one we have been waiting for...

14 comments:

Kate said...

That was so perfect. Thank you.

mrs. o said...

Thank you for your comment. Reading your response just made my day brighter. Thanks!

Dr. A said...

Great post, it gave me chills. Really.

pacatrue said...

Hi, Elle. Beautifully written post!

mrs. o said...

Thank you Dr. A! I'm not as accomplished as Elle when it comes to blogging, but rest assured I am honored by your comment.

pacatrue said...

Oops! I meant beautifully written post, Mrs. O!

mrs. o said...

That's okay, pacatrue. We've been best friends since kindergarten! My thoughts and hers are alike in many ways. One can't help but be influenced by Elle's greatness!

Renee said...

Voting is so very important. In Canada we just finished an election with the worst voter turnout ever. Part of this had to so with Aboriginal Canacians being disenfranchised and the other to do with voter apathy. Daily we gripe and complain about our governments but if we cannot even be bothered to go to the polls what right have we to say that we don't like the country is being run.
As people of color we have a responsibility to vote. There has been a terrible price paid so that we could have a say. I took my children with me when I went to cast my ballot and we have a long discussion about civic responsibility. If we want to see change we need to demand more from the people that seek to lead us.

mrs. o said...

You are absolutely correct renee. When I first began teaching, my students informed me that they saw no reason to vote. I explained to them the importance of always voting and THEN I showed them the Eyes on the Prize Series over the course of two weeks. They could not believe what people of color had to go through to attain the right to vote, sit where they wanted rather it was on buses,in restaurants, or going to their school of choice. They had no idea of the price so many people paid so they could enjoy the rights they have today.

noemimartinez said...

in my son's class today, they had to do a poster of who'd they decide for president and voted on the Nick kids pick the president ( http://www.nick.com/kpp/ ) He and alot of the other kids chose Obama, a few did posters on McCain. There were so many who were doing posters on Obama, that the teacher made students do them on McCain instead. Me and him (he's 8) watched a little of the last debate and I'm glad we've been talking and he knows whats up. He says the fact that only citizens can vote "is stupid." He asked me the important questions, how many times have I voted, who did I vote for, when could he vote. I told him can you believe there has never been a person of color president? No black person, no Mexican, no Puerto Rican. I told him he could one day be the boyfriend or brother of the next president too :) (sorry for the long comment)

mrs. o said...

Noemi, I welcome long comments. I also encourage my son that he can be anything he wishes to be regardless of his color.

Field Notes said...

Well said.

And I am glad there are teachers like you.

mrs. o said...

Thanks field notes. I am glad for readers like you.

平平 said...

^^Thanks!!

婚前徵信婚姻感情大陸抓姦外遇抓姦法律諮詢家暴婚前徵信尋人感情挽回大陸抓姦離婚工商徵信婚前徵信外遇抓姦感情挽回尋人大陸抓姦離婚家暴工商徵信法律諮詢跟蹤工商徵信婚前徵信感情挽回外遇抓姦法律諮詢家暴尋人大陸抓姦離婚大陸抓姦外遇尋人家暴工商徵信法律諮詢家暴感情挽回大陸抓姦外遇婚前徵信離婚尋人工商徵信外遇抓姦法律諮詢家暴婚前徵信大陸抓姦尋人感情挽回外遇抓姦婚前徵信感情挽回尋人大陸抓姦工商徵信法律諮詢離婚家暴工商徵信外遇抓姦法律諮詢家暴婚前徵信尋人感情挽回大陸抓姦離婚婚前徵信工商徵信外遇抓姦尋人離婚家暴大陸抓姦感情挽回法律諮詢離婚感情挽回婚前徵信外遇抓姦家暴尋人工商徵信外遇抓姦法律諮詢家暴婚前徵信尋人感情挽回">徵大陸抓姦離婚婚前徵信工商徵信外遇抓姦尋人離婚家暴大陸抓姦感情挽回法律諮詢

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...