Thursday, June 05, 2008

With a Long Eye...

You know, we like to think that history is ... well, ancient. But really, the past is never very far away, is it? Take the long view. Look back. It wasn't so long ago that people of color couldn't vote without fear of being intimidated...or worse. It wasn't so long ago that a woman had to get fed up about riding in the back of the bus. It wasn't so long ago that women, of any color, were just expected to stay at home, mind the kids, and make sure the darling husband had a hot dinner waiting for when he came home. It wasn't so long ago that visionary men like MLK and RFK were cut down in their prime. Who knows what might have been, had they lived.
People are alive now who lived through all of this. People who were told that this is all "one nation", that we are all "equal" - that "anyone can become President". But you know that some of us despaired of this really being truth.
Things are not equal. We have made great strides, but we still have far to go. While I have some serious issues with HRC's behavior of late, I do respect that she did well for women candidates. (Well, hopefully she still has some credit there; I suspect she's damaged some of our credibility!)
I am not an African-American. I am Mexican on my mom's side, European mutt (mostly Irish) on my dad's. Not wealthy, but I did not want for the necessities. I am educated - the most educated one in my immediate family. I suppose I have always been the idealist. I still tend to get angry over the way things are when I know they could be better. I am the most non-religious, and most decidedly anti-Republican member of my immediate family. My father once used the "n" word around me, and before I could even think, I yelled at him to "SHUT UP" and to NEVER use that word around me again. If you knew what it was like growing up with my dad, you would understand how my telling him in no uncertain terms to SHUT UP was the wall crazy of me. We were both shocked into silence and stared at each other after I said that to him. I think I was barely out of my teens when that happened. That said, I know I have still have race issues. The typical stuff: being wary of young males in groups, in particular. I'm not perfect, but I'd like to think I can improve.
I obviously haven't lived with the struggles so many in the African-American community have, but I am SO happy for Obama. Dude is my candidate. Reading things like this - Annette John-Hall: As Obama rises, Jim Crow falls - really make me want to cry. (See link: ) I can only imagine the impact of this on people's lives. Me? I'm just happy that the scales may finally be tipping onto the less asshatt-y side of things. Seriously, this year, between teaching Of Mice and Men and Song of Solomon, I've been trying to tell freshmen and juniors in extremely affluent, white-dominated communities about just this type of thing. Their young little brains are like "WHAT? People actually got lynched and NOTHING was done? And this was the 1900s?!" (Regarding Emmit Till) I'm glad we're getting to the days when kids are boggled that "nothing was done?!", but we still need to remember that YES, it happened, and it's something we're still moving on from.