Archives for posts with tag: Barack Obama

Over the last few days I have expressed my excitement over the first black president and been shocked to learn that most members of my family dont get the significance. Even the 12 year old downstairs, eating her breakfast, while watching music videos, just said, ” so what, he’s just another president.”

Now the 12 year old wasn’t raised by me or mine, but my brothers, my own sons, at least two of them, have said the same thing. To which I responded, my god, don’t you know anything about history?

I thought I taught them about slavery, I thought they knew about the hardships of being a negro in america. But I am not black, and so I did not engrain history into their minds. I think perhaps, that lack of understanding must also come from the schools which have failed to teach the real history of our country.

I know, I didnt learn about slavery in school. I was oblivious until roots, the tv show, and after that I ate up every bit of history that I could to try to understand how it could be that people in america once enforced, and embraced such inhuman cruelty.

But american history omits much of the truth regarding america and its actions, or lack thereof. I didnt even know about the holocaust until I was 12 and had a jewish friend whose grandmother had survived the camps.

What a world we live in when so many people just dont understand the significance and the potential for healing this president brings.

How do you not know about segregation, about men being hung because they were black and dared to drink out of the white fountain instead of the black?

How do you not know that Rosa Parks took her life into her hands when she refused to sit in the back of the bus and that she was arrested simply for sitting in the front of the bus?

How do you fail to know that the pathway from the lincoln memorial to the white house used to hold slave markets there?

How do you not know that Martin Luther King had a dream, that segregation would end, and that all people would one day be truly equal? I know by the law, equality has technically been around since the early 50s- 60’s but how do you not get the significance, or understand that today, the dream finally passed the last barrier and became reality?

I am disapointed in those of my family who have missed out on the joy of this day because they lack the knowledge and the understanding of the significance regarding this time, in the span of not just American history, but in some cases, world. And I am disapointed in myself for not realizing I have enlightened no one in all my 50 years.

Barack Hussein Obama, born August 4, 1961, is not simply “just another president”.

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I cried when Obama won. I was happy, but also awash with the pain of the past..a pain that I hope will be washed away in the healing waters of a black mans presidency.

If you weren’t alive in the 50s and 60s, or a history buff, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is all about.

I know, it seems like something that happened a long long time ago. But I am only 50 and I remember how black people were treated like second class citizens, bullied by the clueless clan and restricted by segregation.

I saw the signs, in Texas stores and restaurants, and even in Oregon that said “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” and it meant, “black people not welcome here”. I vaguely remember water fountains designated for whites…but I remember this more for when the government put a stop to it — some white people were very upset about the idea of sharing with black people and they raged against it. Just look up the history of Governor Wallace. A bad man. A very bad man who was anti-black for a very long time.

As a child I hadn’t known many black people. The only thing I thought was different was skin color, and to me it seemed exotic, something interesting, and sometimes beautiful. not something to cause separation or fear, or hate.

I didn’t understand why black people were being treated poorly. And I remember the kluesless klux clan always seemed to be hurting and killing black people and getting away with it. When I asked my parents my father went into a tirade about how black people were less than whites. He hated them. I said what if I married one,  and he told me that if I ever married one I’d be disowned. I said GOOD. I was about 11 or 12, soundly slapped and sent to my room.

I will give my father credit, by the time he died, he was wiser than when he was young and had come to accept that he was wrong about black people. He tried to make peace, with me, when I was in my late 20s,   by giving me a black baby doll. As a kid I had wanted to mother all children and  I had often asked for a black baby doll and he had always said no. 

As a child and even now, I wasn’t buying that black people weren’t just like whites. I was a god believer in my younger days, and my premise was, if god created people in all different colors, it wasnt so one could lord it over another, but god must of had a GOOD reason. I just hadn’t figured it out yet.

As an adult (and later an athiest) I would go to college and learn from anthropology courses that skin color is determined based on evolutionary elements such as where you live, how much sun you will be exposed to, and of course natural selection.

In Africa, for example, it’s better to have dark skin, lots of sun there, burning sun and the extra melanin protects you. If you are white, it’s because your ancestors lived in a zone where there was less sun and you didnt need as much melanin to protect you from it.

If you believe in god, this evolutionary explanation still makes perfect sense. After all, wouldn’t god be smart enough to factor in the need for more melanin?

For the first time, and finally, a black man is president of America.  I believe his becoming president can go a long way in healing some folks who are old enough to have been mistreated for being black or had family who were, beaten, murdered, and made into slaves simply because of the color of their skin.

Obama wasn’t my first choice. I was torn between him and Hilary. I was interested in Hilary because women have been second class citizens (and yes, often slaves too) for most of written history. But in American history, black men were given the right to vote before women were. In America it became illegal to kill or beat your black slaves before it became illegal to beat or kill your wife. Yes, back in the day, you were allowed to beat your wife and say it was all her fault. And that persisted into the 1970s. So I see this progress for black people as progress for women too.

I will say, there was a brief moment when I was intested in McCain because Obama and Hilary had gone at it in ways that made me lose respect for both of them. And McCain had pulled in Palin, who is a woman, and I liked the idea of a woman making it to VP.

That interest in McCain lasted until Palin opened her mouth. My impression of her was red-neck, gun toting, soccer mom, not very intelligent, and not whom I wanted to represent women or America. 

My daughter is a soccer mom. I love her. She is intelligent, smart, beautiful, but being a soccer mom doesn’t qualify her to run for president, or vice president so why should it qualify Palin? After hearing Palin speak, Im not sure how she ever became governor of Alaska.

And joe the plumber? OMG I remember plumbers when I was a kid, it’s not for nothing the joke about plumbers butt. And why would you champion a guy who was found to be practicing without a license?

But it wasn’t joe the plumber that turned me more toward Obama. As he debated McCain and spoke to people, I came to believe he could take care of us. He would affect change we so desperately need. And he, Obama, could do more than lead us well, he could heal a people whose history is rife with injustice.

My tears — were the tears of justice ringing in the land.