Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I watched the Inauguration this morning at school, in the cafeteria with about 75 high school students. I work in a very conservative, very wealthy district where many of the kids unsurprisingly parrot the views of their parents. So, imagine my surprise and pleasure when Barack Obama was given the oath of office and, at the end, the kids all burst into applause. It really caused goosebumps for me, and it made me a little teary-eyed.

I grew up in New Jersey, not anywhere near what you'd call the deep South, but I grew up in a town that was very white. We had some Asians in my high school, but we mostly were white. My father is a very prejudiced man, outwardly so; my mother is somewhat prejudiced, too, but not nearly as bad as my father. If you had announced to my family when I was growing up that I would see a black man become President before I died, they would have chuckled, at the very least. (I have always said that this country would elect a black man before it elects a white woman to lead it, but that's another issue altogether.)

I am so happy to be able to say that, when my son is my age, he will look back on this date and wonder what the big deal was. As he grows up, for him, a person of color reaching the highest office in the land will be a given, not a pipe dream. He will grow up automatically seeing black people as equals, not as the scary people I thought they were because the only ones I ever saw were on TV, being arrested.

I just hope that those who are heaping such accolades on President Obama now aren't disappointed in the days and weeks to come when he isn't able to fix everything overnight. In reality, Presidents don't really affect every day life all that much, and I hope that people's love for the man doesn't turn into contempt because he's not Superman and won't be able to change everything immediately.

It's kind of cool, what we do every four years. We elect someone new to lead us, and have a turnover of power peacfully, without any death or bloodshed of any kind. We were the first country to think that was a good idea, and for over 200 years, we've done it well.

God bless America.

No comments: