This morning, I awoke to an inundation of election summaries and commentaries. By far, the overwhelming theme seemed to be the historic nature of a black man getting elected to the Presidency of the USA. One female black pundit made a couple of comments which struck dissonant chords within my appreciation for the struggle of the common man (of any color). The two specific comments which troubled me were:
* that he "looks like me"
* not until he is inaugurated on the Capitol steps would she believe that she is truly "free, free at last".
This woman is, in my opinion, FAR to associated with a distant past, of which she was never a part. She's too young to have experienced the racial hatred prior to the assassination of Dr. King. And, if I'm not mistaken, there isn't a person alive today who was actually a slave in the USA. This woman, who had the right to vote in the USA from the day she turned 18 years old, seems to be clinging to a past which is not now, nor ever was, hers.
You see, throughout this election, Mr. (President-Elect) Obama has not, to my recollection, placed any kind of great emphasis on his run for this office as some sort of historical statement about race relations in America. His message has been one of coming together for a common cause. And, as I listened to his victory speech last night, I don't recall hearing him ever say "Now is the time for all black people to stand up and say 'in your face, honkeys!'" In fact, the way I DO remember it, he deliberately cancelled the fireworks display to emphasize that this is not near as much a time to celebrate as it is a time to take stock of where we stand and prepare to move forward together - not with the blacks standing up to lead the way, free at last free at last free at last - but together as a united people... the melting pot that we are: white, black, asian, christian, jew, muslim, gay, straight, or otherwise.
So, to anyone out there who thinks 'he looks like me' because of the color of his skin, I say to you as a descendant of Irish (paternal) and German (maternal) biological heritage, raised by a step-father whose career success is in the petroleum industry, I say to you:
He only looks like you on the outside. On the inside, he looks like me. He looks like a man who wants peace, not only in the world, but in his heart, too. He looks like a man who wants to leave this world a better place for his children than it was left for him. He looks like a man who can rise above the pettiness of racial distinction. He looks like a man who has, at one time or other, been exposed to (and, at some time or other, felt) hypocritical or bigoted thoughts or feelings both from and for members of the human race and had to struggle with that internal green monster to overcome those negative thoughts and feelings -- the outrage at being discriminated against (Mel Brooks' movie 'Blazing Saddles' didn't mock the Irish arbitrarily - we've been persecuted too... just not because of our skin color) and the shame of discriminating against others. He looks like a man who wants to save this tiny planet from the precipice of destruction to which it was led by corporate and petroleum fat cats.
Sir Richard Branson dreams of traveling to Mars, true... but, that doesn't mean he wants to do that at the expense of THIS planet.
We must learn to live together - NOW - in humility and grace. Our personal struggles will never go away if we don't. My personal struggle to save children (one, specifically) from abuse will never go away if we don't. Please, I beg of you. Do not turn this election result into a mandate on race. It is a mandate on CHANGE. A change in the way we ALL reach out to one another, regardless of skin color or religious heritage.
I believe in God. The God of now. The God who was, is, and always shall be. The God whose name is 'Am' (assertable self-awareness). The Jewish name for Him is YHWH (the unspoken, the tetragrammaton, The Lord); Christian scholars refer to Him as The Great I AM; Muslims call Him Allah. But, no matter what you call Him, He is the essence of your (and my) existence. He is Being. And, He can BE at PEACE. He is able to.
I live in a red state, surrounded by republican fear mongers. When I went to the election board this morning to see the results of a local election which hadn't been posted to the news, I emerged from the stairwell just in time to hear a bigoted man assert his "fear" resulting from this election.
People (of all colors)... STOP IT!! LET GO OF THIS!!! It isn't helping!!!! It is just perpetuating the things our heroes have fought so hard to overcome.
I'm a green-skinned American, and I believe Barack Obama looks more like me on the inside, than he looks like any african-american on the outside.
He looks like ME!