We walked to Oak Street in Chinatown and were excited to see the longest line we’ve seen there. As we moved closer, we saw that it actually snaked around the block!
It felt like there was electricity in the air. I had goosebumps thinking about it. Looking at the older Chinese people, the young Haitian and Dominicans, we appreciated anew how diverse this city and our neighborhood is. Or at least can be, in a moment. It still doesn’t feel this way in daily life.
But this is what this election is about. It’s about how things might be, it’s about hope, it’s about seeing the best in our selves and saying Yes we can.
I had goosebumps in line. Every time I think of what it must feel like to be a African American parent and now be able to look your child and say truly, there is no door shut to you. Of course it’s not true, but the visible hope that it might be true, one day, is before us. It appears within reach with more substance than suggestion.
When they show the tapes of the Civil Rights movement: the fire hoses, the dogs, the police – the power of the white/majority State unleashed against her own citizens seeking the dangerous benefit of being granted the privileges of exercising their full citizenship and humanity – how can you not cry? And people who lived through those attacks get to feel the sense of a promise fulfilled. It’s so incredibly moving.
9:45 PM – Ohio, Pennsylvania both have been called for Obama. Our little Enna three years old, called us to let us know she wants Obama to win, and Ennyn her little sister is on the potty.
11 PM – while steeling ourselves for a long night we see the announcement : President Elect Barack Obama.
3 AM – have not stopped welling up, tears of joy spilling down my cheeks, often.
I feel vindicated. The weight of every racist attack I’ve borne, rests lighter on my psyche. I didn’t know I was still carrying them. That the weight of approval was no longer behind the those who would be victimizers. The moral pendulum has swung in favor of all of us who have come so close to having our spirits crushed.
My heart is singing for every parent of a child of color who can now hope for better things for that child. For every parent who can make them promises, and encourage dreams and really believe it, perhaps for the first time.
I note that the McCain campaign headquarters is uniformly white. How does one even find a room so homogeneous? How does one do it while proclaiming the podium to speak “for the people.” That McCain’s concession speech was gracious and expressed values in stark contrast to the racist, fear-mongering campaign he ran. This belies his allegiance to politics of old.
The multiple thousands of people, from every walk of life from celebrities like Oprah and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to regular citizens, women and men, parents bringing children to witness this historic event.
President-elect Obama’s victory speech was somber, acknowledging the considerable challenges we face:
I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
But also inspired us to be our best selves, as individuals and as a citizenry:
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
He wisely called on history from both sides of the aisle. The speech was in many ways, like well-written wedding vows. It predicted the tough times ahead and the likelihood that we will not love him the next four years the way we do tonight. But he promised to help us be our best selves; to be honest with us. We are much better off for facing these challenges with this partner and how we weather them will be a measure of our character as much as it is a measure of our political process.
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.