Like so many people all over the world,
my heart has been deeply touched that Americans have elected Barack Obama.
What inspires me:
- By carrying the genes of the two races so long divided by the legacy of slavery, he both symbolizes and embodies the quickening healing of that deep wound in the national soul.
- The younger generation coming of age in this era of global connectivity understands more than any earlier people that racial differences are superficial. They have embraced him as a leader truly representative of this multi-ethnic culture.
Yet it is not just Barack’s racial mix that has stirred me, and given hope to millions.
- He carries from his early life in multi-ethnic Hawaii and Indonesia a global perspective.
- He is a citizen of the world, and the world is looking up to him as a trans-national leader.
- He integrates the feminine and masculine energies in a special way from the influence of his globally aware, compassionate, single mom.
- Colin Powell calls him a “transformational figure,” — others describe him as a visionary leader.
I am deeply hopeful that he will uplift and inspire people all over the world to come together in a spirit of kindred caring and cooperation.
- In 1955 riding the school bus to summer day camp near Coney Island at age 11, I sat next to another boy I immediately liked. Each day he’d save a seat for me; we became friends. When I wanted to invite him home, or visit his home a few miles from mine, my mother said no…because he was Black. I did not understand.
- Our block in Brooklyn was a White enclave. Across the street was all Black. Back then, polite Whites called them “Colored,” or “Negroes.” More often I heard “niggers,” and was taught to be afraid to go there; yet I did not understand.
- I remember my dear mother saying how much she liked our cleaning lady, Mrs. Hines. Yet she worried about shaking hands with her…as though her Black hands were somehow always dirty, or her Blackness would rub off.
- I remember in university in 1963 when the civil right movement was underway, feeling such hope that “the times they are a-changin’.” That summer, a century after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King’s “Dream” rang out across the land. Barack had just turned 2.
- Just 3 months later, on a cold November night, standing in line for seven hours to view the casket of our slain young President who embodied such promise of a new generation, hundreds of us sang, tearfully yet hopefully, “We Shall Overcome.”
- Five years later, the brutal slaying of King and Bobby Kennedy devastated and disillusioned me deeply.
- I was ashamed to participate in the senseless warfare in Vietnam, which also seemed tinged with racism.
- After Vietnam, I made my home in Berkeley because it seemed such a progressive place. I was saddened to see, even there, the great divide between the mostly White, affluent hills and the mostly Black, lower class “flats.” I chose to live in “the flats”, and to be an out, sexual minority among a visible racial minority. Looking back, I realize maybe it was because I felt different, a social outcast, that I could empathize with the plight of my Black neighours.
- So I am moved to tears of joy and gratitude to see at last that America is overcoming the deep wound left by slavery.
- I am astonished that we have come so far in the 45 years since MLK cried out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “Let freedom ring!”
Even as I whole-heartedly celebrate this milestone in healing the racial divide,
I am saddened that three more states have enshrined sexual bigotry into their constitutions
during this election, diminishing same-sex love as somehow less than straight love.
Just as I have kept the faith that time would heal our racial wounds, I also am confident that time will bring a more enlightened view of human loving. As the mostly Republican California Supreme Court so eloquently pointed out this year, up until a few decades ago, interracial marriage was illegal in many states.
Barack’s own parents would have been outlaws.
I truly trust that within another generation, people will look back in disbelief that love between two women or two men was ever considered to be any less than love between a woman and man.
we SHALL overcome…someday.”