Celebration of Now

I voted today. Line wasn’t too bad… about 35 minutes, but I live in a rural suburb. Fingers crossed. I’ll be honest, maybe I’m just a fuzzy feel-good liberal but I actually got a little choked up voting for Barack Obama. One of my best friends once gave me some good advice: “Don’t ever start a sentence with ‘If I was black I would….’ cuz you don’t know.” With that in mind, I can’t begin to imagine what the emotions would be like for 50- or 80-year-old black folks to pull the lever (or touch the screen) for this guy and actually cast a vote for a man who will likely be the first African-American President.

For so much of this campaign, while we’ve certainly acknowledged the “historic nature” of it, so many have tried to downplay race, the Obama campaign included. Sure, most of us are voting for him based on the content of his character and because we think he’s the best person for the job. But while we’ve been told that Obama is “Post-Racial” (whatever that means), I think it’s okay to not only acknowledge the magnitude of this milestone, but to celebrate it. Not just black folks. But us white folks should be able to be proud too. You don’t have to be black to feel some of these emotions… My mom used to tell me, “It’s okay to cry.” At the time I think she meant it about sad stuff, even if it was just a movie (like Brian’s Song). But I think it can apply to happy stuff too… and maybe that’s why I felt myself welling up just slightly in that voting booth while I stared at my selection for “Sen. Barack Obama (Democrat, Illinois).”

Assuming he wins, we should be happy that this country is taking a step in the right direction just from a purely political and ideological standpoint, even if it’s only a small step and the road ahead is very long and still littered with the atrocities of the Bush years. But on top of that, we should also let ourselves pause and smile (or cry with joy) about finally starting to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. It might not seem appropriate to quote Ronald Reagan here, but maybe now it finally really is “morning in America.”

This was all summed up a bit more eloquently in this past Sunday’s Washington Post by Donna Britt:

For one shining moment, let’s call a halt to our red-blue bickering and predicting. Rather than glancing back at our racist past or peering into our uncertain future, we’ll allow ourselves a brief celebration of now. We’ll be brave and reckless enough to be happily surprised by one undeniable change:

Against all sensible odds and reasoned predictions, untold numbers of Americans of every persuasion have opened their hearts, minds and souls to the possibility that a black man is the best choice to lead them. Whatever happens, an immeasurable amount of light has illuminated our darkness. Once such doors have been pried open, it’s hard shutting them as tightly as before.

That’s a change worth believing in.

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