Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finally!

Wow, what a day yesterday was.
Did your heart swell with pride?
In your mind, were you saying to yourself, 'Finally....finally'?

I was.
My son and I watched in wonder as hundreds of thousands of voices raised and hands beat against the cold air for this new president. I tried to get Anna to watch but she didn't get it.
I just have to share her reaction.

me: "Anna, come watch this. It's history. You'll be sorry if you miss it."
she, glancing at the screen: "Why is everyone so excited? It's just a new president."
me, in horror: "Yes, it is a new president and that's exciting enough. But this is the first black president in US history. An African-American in the white house."
she: "Why does it matter what color he is?"

At first, I have to admit, I was shocked. Surprised and a little embarrassed about such an uninformed comment. And then I wasn't. Then, I was happy.

Because that comment means something. My ten-year old daughter really did get it. Skin color couldn't mean less to her. People just are who they are. Finally, a generation is coming up in America who maybe does get it.

I was proud of myself, too, because I helped put that there in her head. Despite living in the extreme South where, in many places - including our very rural small town, bigots filled with ignorance and prejudice still roam free.

Did I mention that, when I went to vote, not a single Obama sign was present at our voting poll? Scary, isn't it? But not at our house.

Of course, I went on to explain about the Civil Rights movement, segregation, repression, and what an amazing, hard-won accomplishment this election was.

She shrugged. Yes, she knows all about that - slavery, the civil war, separate schools and water fountains, not allowed in restaurants or the front of buses. People were mean and stupid back then. (her words, not mine)

'But, isn't that supposed to be over?' she asked. 'People know better now, don't they?"

Yes, her comments are naive and simplistic. She's ten. But she's on the right track.

4 comments:

Stasia said...

Awesome post. Thank you so much.

Sweetwater Designs said...

Laurie..such a great post!
I remember an essay I read when I was really young. It was by a young black girl about my age which at the time must've been early teen.
She was to write about what it was like to be black and I read it because it was such a curious question.
She wrote a bit of racism but mostly it was about a normal teen life. But she finished it with a sentence that impacted me hugely and to this day I remember that essay because of the one sentence.
She said that she couldn't wait for the day when we were all human to human, for the day when well meaning white teachers considered all of her students equal and the white children were also asked to write an essay on what it means to be 'white'
That the States has an African American for president is hugely progressive and the world feels the strength of that but I completely agree. We're not where we need to be until there isn't such a celebration about something that should be just be the norm.
Sorry for the long rambling 'comment' Laurie :)
but it was a beautiful day even in Canada and I wanted to comment.

Anonymous said...

Hey Laurie. It was a great day in the UK too. I worry that everyone expects too much because he is, at the end of the day, only human and a politician to boot but he brings a breath of fresh air and honesty to the whole proceedings. Love what your daughter said - all credit to her but also mainly to you for doing such a great job raising her. Rebecca

Laurie Whitney - Mermaid Glass said...

Exactly. We're pulling for him and for all of us. New unemployment figures just released today. Scary stuff....

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