When Barack Obama was officially announced to be the next president of the United States I broke down in tears.
Up until 1967, just 3 years before my Black father met my white mother the Supreme Court in Loving vs. Virginia declared that the laws against interracial marriage held in multitudes of states were unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. And yet many of those states kept that ban on the books anyway as a way of publicly and officially declaring their disapproval. The last state to finally vote to take the law off its books was Alabama. That was in the year 2000.
It was a very close vote.
Now we’ve elected a man who is the product of one of those unions that so many sought to ban.
As recently as 1988 there wasn’t a single Black CEO in any large publicly traded company. Even now Blacks hold less than 1% of the tens of thousands of senior-level, corporate posts at America’s 1,000 largest public corporations.
And yet on January 20th 2009 the most powerful executive position in the world will go to Barack Obama.
Now when Black parents tell their children they can be anything they want to be they have evidence to back that up.
How could I not cry?
And yet yesterday was also filled with intense heartache because as voters delivered a powerful blow to those who sought to suppress one particular group voters also chose to empower those who now seek to demoralize another.
Florida and Arizona voted to ban same-sex marriage and Arkansas voted to ban gay couples from adopting children. In California voters chose to make our state the first to actually take away Gay’s right to marry after we legalized it.
For me the worst part is that many (although by no means all) Black voters helped propel these propositions to victory. In other words it was my community.
History has taught us (or it SHOULD have taught us if they ever bothered to discuss this stuff in school) that when a minority group is subjected to the racism of a group that is in power that minority group tends to turn inward in an act of self-preservation. They are less likely to invite in others who are not like them. And then there is such a thing as jealousy. My father was rarely around when I was growing up and yet my two half brothers (who I haven’t seen or heard from in over 15 years) were jealous of me because as little attention as I got from our dad it was still more than he gave to them. In other words, the less good stuff there is to go around (the good stuff can be attention, advancement, tolerance or something else) the more envious and competitive people tend to be.
Ironically the one group that has NEVER discriminated against other minority groups are the Gays and Lesbians.
When Obama won the election the streets of San Francisco’s Castro district exploded with celebration. People were literally dancing in the street. And then, as the OTHER results of the election came in the mood changed. People were shocked, even devastated to learn that those whose victory they cheered would seek to hurt them.
Yes, I know that many will use religion as an excuse for their vote. A vast majority of those who voted for these bills genuinely believe that Gay marriage goes against the teachings of their faith. Many once felt the same way about interracial marriage.
But for those of you who are Gay I want you to know there is hope. One of the reasons I support Barack Obama is because he DOESN’T buy into this idea that minority groups have to stick to their own at the expense of others. Those of you who saw him speak at a King’s Church on Martin Luther King’s Day know this. He stood up in front of that congregation and told them that if Blacks really want to live King’s dream we are going to have to look within our own community and examine the way we treat our Jewish and Gay brothers and sisters (as Jew I guess that makes me my own sister…but I digress). No Democratic politician has ever asked the Black community to do that before and the people in that church were listening.
I know that Obama said he supported civil-unions over Gay-marriage. I know that he had to in order to get elected. But now he is arguably the most influential man in the world. I believe he will continue to challenge us, ALL of us, to be more tolerant and open to one another. I believe he will help to guide us toward a future filled with less prejudice and hate. I don’t think he’s the next Messiah and I don’t think he has the power to eliminate prejudice. But I do think he’ll get us closer to the goal line. To use Obama’s words: I have never been more hopeful.
Bestselling Author of:
SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE,
PASSION, BETRAYAL AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS,
OBSESSION, DECEIT AND REALLY DARK CHOCOLATE
SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING