[pause for sustained applause and whooping and whistles]
I received a very enthusiastic email message from a friend who is out of the state right now who just can't believe that we are seeing this happen. And I've had similar conversations on the phone and in person with friends and family members who are over the moon about this state of affairs. And we are a mixed bunch, my friends and family. And I think that's important to note, because so much has been made of race by those outside of Obama's camp and supporters--about him being a "black" candidate who has a "Muslim" middle-name and family ties to Islam.
But imagine what this says, to the nation, to the world, but more importantly to the kids at your local elementary school: the Democratic nominee for the first time is not a white man. And in Obama's case his mixed-parentage, and very mixed-upbringing, is also something to take note--that he comes from a complex heritage and claims family across the globe of all different ethnicities.
There are a lot of pundits, talking heads, and reporters who are writing about what this means for the Democratic party, for the nation, for the world. One article I found interesting was in today's New York Times, "Many Blacks Find Joy in Unexpected Breakthrough." I think it's true that African Americans probably do feel a sense of pride and perhaps even surprise that a majority of white Americans (and Americans of color across the spectrum) are behind Barack Obama--that he garners so much cross-ethnic, cross-racial support. But the truth is, I think for any of us interested in anti-racist practices, Barack Obama's nomination is one that inspires a sense of hope--a renewed faith that WE can make a DIFFERENCE in the nation.
And I went back and looked through all of the posts I had written about Obama (there are several--you can type in his name in the search box and see), but I want to link to one I wrote nearly a year ago. It was written on June 12, "Walk for Barack", right after I had participated in the Saturday, June 9 "Walk for Change" that Obama's campaign orchestrated. This is when my support for Obama became concrete--because you don't knock on doors in 90 degree humid weather in the South if you don't feel a sense of passion and commitment.
Here is an excerpt from what I wrote then--the context is that I was relating a conversation that I had had with an older African American man who expressed skepticism that Obama was electable because he questioned whether this country was ready for a black president:
I don't know if the average American voter wants to elect a black president. But what I told this gentleman and what I believe, and what got me out on a 92 degree afternoon, knocking on people's doors, volunteering for the first time in my life to canvass for a cause or a person--what I believe in my heart of hearts is that I want to and need to believe that we, as a nation, are ready to move ahead in terms of racial politics. That we want to learn from the past and we want to learn from each other. And while I know that racism will not be erased so easily by a few ethnic studies classes or multicultural fairs, I also know that I am supporting Obama because I have to have faith. I have to believe and to envision the country I want rather than the country I suspect I have. I have to actually practice what I preach rather than bemoaning the state of race and politics that we currently live in.
All I have to say now, a year later, is YES WE CAN!