Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The first POST-MODERN President

"Black man, black woman, black baby /
White man, white woman, white baby /
White man, black woman, black baby /
Black man, white woman, black baby."
-- Eddy Murphy on Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet

On election day I saw people on you tube crying because of the election of the first "Black" president. They were cheering and singing and saying that the Dream of Martin Luther King Jr. had been achieved. While 55% of whites voted for the Republicans, even after the abject failures of the Bush years.

I spent the weeks leading up to the election in Miami, driving early voters to the polls. One place I volunteered at was Florida Memorial University, a traditionally black college. The students were all African-Americans, I saw no other racial demographics on the campus, but as first time voters they seemed earnest and excited. What disturbed me was not that they had a racially segregated campus, I've lived in the south and I recognize the necessity of having a safe learning environment for education to flourish. What worried me was that even in 2008, I seemed to be one of the only Caucasian adults that these teenagers had ever talked to as a peer. This is a terrible symptom of the racism inherent in the Southern United States.

One young woman asked me how much I was being paid to give them rides to the polls. With all the voting tricks that have been inflicted upon people in the South, it is understandable that she questioned my motives. These kids were sequestered on campus, and I think few if any of them could afford cars. After I explained that I was volunteering, and paying my own expenses, I was met with a blank stare. I actually had to explain to these university students that in my opinion if Obama fails to be elected that our nation is over. That for this reason I had strategically come to Florida to get out the vote.

These kids stood in line for 3-4 hours to Vote Early, and make sure that they didn't get left out of the most important election of their lives. For me it was a learning experience, to see kids willing to give up their time to vote, to be part of this nation. It makes me wonder why so many Americans do not participate.

We may have a President who was born of an African and an American, but this makes him a half-breed at best. A bi-racial child for those who believe that the racial divisions in our American culture are real. I think, with this President we may begin to move into a new Post-Modern era, beyond the classifications of race, and perhaps beyond the other divisions that politicians naturally use as wedges to conquer us.

I'm looking for some hope that I'm not the only person who feels this way. The day after the election I got many phone calls from people I had worked with to Get out the Vote. One 60+ year old African-American Grandmother who I drove to the polls on election day called to thank me and share her joy about Obama. We had had a deep conversation the previous day, trying to figure out why so many people fail to vote, or vote with racist hate. To both of us it seemed so irrational and self defeating to see our own relatives squander their freedoms and neglect their potential to succumb to the ignorance and fear.

She said: "If two people from such opposite ends of the social spectrum as us can talk honestly about our problems, then perhaps we can have hope for our country."

Obama's election has given all of us, people from all over the world, the hope that our nation may still have the potential to change the injustice, free the slaves, and unite those divided. If our hope becomes reality, we may yet live up to our human potential and transcend our differences. We can still dream.

Never Forget

Building 7 WTC 2001

Events - The San Diego County Community Coalition