I heard someone ask on Inauguration Day “why does it always have to be about race?”
Let me think about that for a second.
[At this point, imagine a runner at the starting line with an Olympic-style torch. The gun goes off and she begins to run very fast towards giant soap box that she is about to set ablaze.]
Deep cleansing breath.
Well, if we ever have forty-three black presidents in a row who won’t stop talking about what it means to be a person of color elected to the highest office in the land, maybe I’ll ask that same question.
Or, if it hadn’t only been a mere few generations ago where one color enslaved another color in our country, I might wonder why the infamous “card” keeps getting played.
If there were not still people alive today who survived being segregated, kept back from a decent education or job, held out of restrooms, bus seats and restaurants, and seen loved ones hanging from a tree, then perhaps I would lean on the side of caution when bringing up my color.
Or, if there wasn’t still discrimination, bias and prejudice that either silently or overtly exists in the hearts of so many – I could possibly be persuaded to think it is inappropriate to discuss the triumph of the “first time in history” type of election.
The tables are not turned where white in this country has had to endure what black has. The tide has not yet fully receded on hate and bigotry. And the thought that someone who has not had ancestors kidnapped, sold and enslaved, or parents and grandparents beaten or looked over because of the color of their skin, simply refuses to see yesterday as one of the most historical moments in defining our country’s history – totally baffles me.
It would be like a man saying to a woman, “Look, I know I have never physically given birth to a child but would you stop sharing your bodily trials and triumphs after having one? Even if it is your first?”
Would parents who only have healthy, living children dare to say to parents who have lost a child that even though they can only imagine what they must be feeling, could they please stop bringing it up because it makes them uncomfortable?
Is that what it is? Because it makes some people uncomfortable and not want to remember or acknowledge the truth of our not so distant history? Is there some deeply recessed shame that some feel for knowing what happened was wrong and instead of bringing it into the light of day where we can deal with it and heal, want to squash it deep down where it only comes out in tasteless jokes, inept interactions with others who are different, or worse? Much worse?
I want to remember. I want to acknowledge the painful past mistakes our country has committed so that we don’t ever repeat them. EVER. Does that mean I want to live in the past and make all of my decisions based on how our country used to be? No. I want our country to move forward as one people, one nation, under whatever God (or not) we believe in.
When it came time to pull the now proverbial lever on who I thought best suited for the job as President, I compared beliefs, records and policies. I did not have skin color or religion or even genitalia in my list of criterion. My vote was for who I believed to be the right person for the right job at the right time.
And, as it turns out, I am extremely happy with my choice and the opportunities President Obama gives all of us.
[The soap box flames have dwindled to a small smolder now. The flames are not so hot, but lingering coals and plenty of oxygen promise its rebirth on another day, another topic.]
BTW – would there have been no less mention, discussion or celebration had a WOMAN been inaugurated as President?
I know I will cry just as much, praise just as long and celebrate just as hard the first time we finally, finally elect the next right person for the job of President who also happens to be a woman.