Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, We Can


I was born in Mississippi and raised in New Orleans during the 1940s and 50s. I learned racism like I learned the ABC's, at the feet of my mom and dad, all over my neighborhood, all over my family, all over my school, all through my brain. Segregation was relentlessly reinforced in word, thought, and deed. In short, I grew up with all the ugly prejudices of my section of the country. I never gave it a thought; I never even questioned segregation until I came of age in the 1960s, and Martin Luther King stirred the consciences of anybody who had one. That was just the way things were supposed to be. The idea that a black man could become president of the U.S., why, pigs would fly before that.

Which is why I think the results of today's election deserve a moment or two of profound and respectful silence. Something monumental has happened. This country, a place founded and nurtured on slavery for almost 250 years, a place which only 44 years ago years ago passed legislation allowing African Americans to eat in the same restaurants as white people, a place celebrated for its seemingly ineradicable racism has just elected an African American president of the United States. It blows me away.

I cannot tell you how happy I am for every single black person in our country. The country has flashed an unmistakable sign of how total black integration into American society is. I saw several black people crying tonight as Obama delivered his magnificent victory speech. I was tempted to weep myself. I never thought I would live to see this. It's going to take a few days for me to process what's just happened. Without question, this election is historic. It's signifcance can only be glimpsed right now. I believe this was a watershed election in our history, along the order of 1860 or 1896 or 1932, elections when the country made critical choices about what kind of country it was going to be.

Tonight the sky is full of pigs on the wing, all of them grinning from ear to ear, bobbing and weaving in graceful flight.
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