Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night, 2008

We just experienced a pivotal moment in history last night. Now that I’ve cried, cheered, and celebrated with my friends and neighbors, I want to write a little about where we were, where my baby girls were, November 4, 2008, to share with my future, grown-up girls.

Nourit and Avi were both sound asleep when ABC announced that California had gone to Barack Obama, and he was, at that point, the President Elect. A feeling of relief and emotion made tears well up in my eyes. We watched scenes from Grant Park where thousands of people, including many of our friends, had gathered to watch the results and celebrate. I was so proud of my city – everyone was responsible and orderly, and the look of thankfulness and pure relief on the faces said it all. Even the gunshots outside our apartment, a few blocks away, sounded more joyful than menacing. (I still would prefer NOT to hear gunshots so close to my child’s window, though.)

My girls slept while history was being made. They will grow up never knowing a United States that didn’t have a black president. They will grow up accepting that a foreign sounding name is absolutely normal.

Never once in this election did race make an impact on my decision to vote for Obama. Obviously, I didn’t dismiss him as a candidate because he didn’t have the same skin color as I do, but I also didn’t cast my vote for him to change history by electing a black president. I simply voted for him because I thought he was the better person for the (incredibly difficult) job of getting our country back on track. After they announced his election, though, and after listening to numerous stories about how far we’ve come from just a generation ago by electing a black president, I stand amazed at how monumental this decision really is. It’s shocking to me how racist and divided our country has been, even recently. I can’t fathom bearing the same prejudices that were in place not even 100 years ago. I’m not completely naïve. I know that racism still accounts for so much injustice. The fact that it’s 2008, though, and that electing a president without white skin is this extraordinary – well, that’s amazes me. Thank God that my children will be even farther removed from useless prejudice.

I found John McCain’s concession to be wonderfully expressed. Where was this John McCain over the past few months? I found Barack Obama’s speech to be, as always, even and graceful, but sober, as well. He handed the victory back to us, and challenged us about the difficult days ahead. I feel like I do when there is house cleaning to be done: I just want to start immediately get the hard part over with. I’m sure it won’t be as simple as that. By the time my girls are old enough to read this and place it within their life experience, I hope, pray and believe that we will have become a better America. For them.

1 comment:

Marketing Mommy said...

I was in Grant Park last night, and watching Barack Obama win the Presidency is a memory I will treasure forever. I finally feel some hope that our children will grow up in better America.

And, for the first time in years, I can honestly say I'm proud to be an American.