Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Today I am living history. I'm not going to lie-- a friend said that to me. Though I would enjoy taking credit for "living history" I can't, simply because she will read this and yell at me. But living history I am. When I was younger I wondered a lot, about a lot of things. There were two "history-esque" things I always thought about:
  1. We spent so much time in school learning about history and wars and yet I remember thinking that absolutely nothing "exciting" was going to happen in my lifetime. I naively thought then that everyone in the world was a pacifist and perfectly moral... after all, what we were learning about in school happened years ago, and certainly everyone learned from these wars and knew better now. There was no way a war would ever happen again. In my childish mind I secretly wished for something to happen so I could be a part of history.
  2. I wondered if I would see an African-American president or a Female president in my lifetime. I wondered which would happen first, whether or not I saw either. I hoped to see both.

Well... naive wish number one came true seven years ago on September 11th. My immediate thought was guilt... for ever wishing for something bad to happen so I could "live in history books". Now, both wishes came true. I am living in history by voting the first African-American President into office. Funny how in my elementary school mind I couldn't live the stuff history books taught us without a war. I seemed to forget all about the civil rights movement, women's rights, and the most current battle-- LGBQTA rights. I couldn't comprehend that both wishes could come true at once. Now that they have, it's an incredible feeling.

When 9/11 first happened, I knew I was living in history then too. But to me, who knew nothing about the U.S. and world affairs, thought the attack was sudden and out of nowhere. A burst of hostility. And it was a tragic event. To be living through something positive, that I know has been only a dream for hundreds of years, is so rewarding. I heard people say that Barack Obama's race shouldn't matter at all in the election, so there's no reason to celebrate his win just because he is Black. I can somewhat agree with the first half but I have to strongly disagree with the second... first, the first half...

Only 19% of people polled said that race was a consideration in who they chose to vote for in this election. Is that 19% people who voted for Obama because he is black or 19% who voted for McCain because he isn't? I bet not too many people would admit that they didn't vote for Obama because of his skin color, but I would be retreating back to my childhood naivety if I said no one discriminated in that way anymore. 98% of African-American voters cast their ballot for Barack... do you really think that the percentage would have been that high if he were a white democrat? Me? I've been waiting 22 years to vote a black president into office. I'd be lying if I said no part of me voted for him because he is black. In fact, even though I think he is better suited for the presidency than John McCain, I can't honestly say that I would have chosen Obama over McCain if McCain were black and Obama white. Does that make me a bad American? The way I see it, African-Americans have been fighting long and hard in this country. If a candidate can make it so far as to gain their party's nomination, they have to have the ability to make a good President. So, so long as I don't hate the person running, I would probably choose a non-white candidate over a white one or a female over a male... at least for this first go around. 81% of voters said race wasn't a factor. But I bet it really was... at least to some extent.

On to the second... the fact that a black man won NEEDS to be celebrated. I know we live in a time where it shouldn't be an issue at all, it shouldn't be surprising, it shouldn't matter. But right now, today, it does. To see Jesse Jackson crying, explains it all. To the 106 year old daughter of a slave who cast her vote for Obama, it matters. It says so much about how our country has grown, and gives hope to the future. In several weeks time America will have an African-American President. That is something to celebrate.