Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Day After Obama Won: New America? Or Not So Much?
I woke up this morning feeling...different. To be honest, I kind of felt like if I turned on the morning news, I would see chaos in the streets, everything turned upside down, clouds lying on the grass, or just... something. America just elected it's first black president. It's surreal. Just last year around this time, black folk were gathered in Louisiana protesting the unjust treatment of some kids who got in a schoolyard fight and caught felony charges because they were black.
My feeling of different-ness followed me to the gas station. Dude, we have a black president. A black president who is married to black woman. A for real black woman at that-- darker skinned, and just... black. As I pumped my gas, a lady was coming out of the store, talking to her friend about the voting lines yesterday. I smiled at her. You know, one of those knowing smiles where it's like you're exchanging some sort of private information even though the person on the other end is a complete stranger. The lady looked sorta taken aback. She didn't really return my "knowing smile" instead she gave a quick "good morning" and gave me the strange eye. Her look clearly said, "what the hell is this weird woman looking at me for?" Actually, in Atlanta it very well could've been the Smokey, "I don't do that gay shit" look. I frowned and finished pumping my gas. Maybe I was tripping.
When I walked into work it still felt like, well, work. My co-workers were excited, no doubt... but the truth is, I still have to meet my writing quota (yes, suh! weees still have writin' quotas, massa). I dunno, I guess with the election of America's first black president, I kinda expected there to be a party in the streets. You know, like carnival. Or like Kenya, at least (they declared Thursday Obama Day).
Then, I talked to my brother. My brother is probably one of the least emotional cats you'll ever meet. I love him to death for it too-- his perspective is respected because it's like, rarely tarnished by super-emotional reactions.
Super Excited Jacinta: Dude, isn't this exciting?
Brother: Yeah, it's cool.
Super Excited Jacinta: Don't you feel different?
Super Excited Jacinta: Seriously, don't you kinda feel like it's a new day or something? Brother: Um, well I think it means we're moving closer to socialism.
Excited Jacinta: Well, may be so. But it's still exciting... like something will change. Brother: I mean, there will still be racial profiling. Niggaz will still be getting harassed by cops tomorrow...
Not So Excited Jacinta: Yeah, you're right about that.
Brother: Anyways, I'm about to go teach P.E. I'll holler.
Semi-Deflated Jacinta: Peace.
I sat and thought about what he'd said, his take on the whole thing. He's a black man. He's a straight-shooting, young family oriented dude. Hell, he's actually a product of the generation that all of the news organizations so gung-ho about-- this new generation that "doesn't see race as a factor." Yet, he's been harassed by fascist police repeatedly... So, he has a point. Maybe this is just an opportunity for smug white folks to throw a blanket over years and and years of institutionalized racism, declaring everything racist dead because we have a black commander in chief. Maybe cops in NY will continue shooting black men for pulling out their wallets-- only this time, with no public outcry because racism is dead (see: black president).
Even still. Dude, we have a black president. I couldn't help but start smiling again at the thought. I remembered again the sight of Obama hugging and genuinely loving his black wife on live TV for the entire world to see. I started smiled harder. Then I talked to one of my home boys on the ever-annoying G-Chat.
Newly excited Jacinta: Dude, we have a black president!
Homeboy: I know... I still won't believe it til January.
Realistic Jacinta: Hahaha. I was waiting for you to say something sarcastic/realistic.
Homeboy: This shit is incredible. But yeah man....
I guess the reality is, people are surprised and hopeful. But at the end of the day, we're still way too scarred to forget what was going on just the day before Obama won. I guess only the future will tell how far we've really come in terms of race, and what this win will do for the black community, and the consciousness of the black folks (and white for that matter). I guess for the first time in a long, long time, I'm actually excited to see how it all plays out.
(Oh, and did ya'll see the HOLOGRAM on CNN? I ain't gonna lie- that shit freaked. me. out.)