I'm assuming that by now – everyone is aware of who has won our presidential race, and I also assume that most everyone is aware of who I voted for. The race is over. But race is not over, and sadly for all of us, it never will be.
More than my personal satisfaction with the win by individual whom I supported because of that person's policies on how they would run our country, I am happy and thankful for a change in history. And I would have been similarly happy about a change in history if the other ticket would have won. I'm thankful that a black man has been selected as our president-elect. And I would have been equally happy if a woman had been voted the vice-president-elect.
I recently wrote on my "facebook status," that "Laura is thankful that Rosa sat, so that Martin could walk, that Martin walked so that Obama could run, and that Obama ran so our children can fly…Hope is sustenance!"
A friend of mine – yes I have friends who do not agree with me politically – "When a person of color runs for office and ethnicity is a non-issue, THEN that will be something worth celebrating! If 95% of "whites" voted for McCain just because he was white you'd call it racism, but since they were "black" you write poetry about it? A lot of conservative African-Americans sold out their values and beliefs to vote along racial lines, sounds like two steps back to me…"
At first I was quite taken aback by the comment, and somewhat offended. But after reflecting a bit, I have realized what has offended me. I'm tired of people in general assuming that I as individual have voted for this particular candidate because of superficial things, or because of a great marketing/propaganda campaign. Similarly, I'm tired of some people thinking that the majority of American people have voted in this president-elect because we are so stupid that we are only responding to catchy songs, captivating rhetoric and empty promises that look shiny and pretty on the outside.
But then I see another of my friend's "status" updates that says this…. "Name…Believes it unreal that this country will elect someone named HUSSEIN to the highest office in the land…"
And I am again reminded of what so many of voters ARE in fact responding to. That even if my friends are in support of McCain because of his policies and how he intended to run the country, their view of his middle name, which happens to be a very common name, have over-shadowed their intelligent choices made for other reasons. Similarly, it makes me sad that while many people had very valid reasons to not support McCain/Palin, the main reasons they ended up not supporting that ticket was because Sarah Palin winked too much.
I'm not sure I will ever be convinced that the 64% of Americans who actually voted (ISN'T IT SAD THAT ONLY 64% OF OUR COUNTRY CHOSE TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE?!) all voted based on policies and on intelligent reasons for supporting their candidates, but I have to say something about the history that has been made with this election.
Yes, we probably would call it racism if 95% of "white" Americans voted for McCain, (43% of white Americans, 74% of the collective voters voted for Obama while 55% of that 74% voted for McCain). And I'm afraid I can't say I would probably respond to the initial propaganda of that sort of thing. But in the end, I have hope, some may call it naïvete, but I disagree, I have HOPE that human beings will act in rational ways that treat one another as a human being, simply because we all are equally human beings. Racism surrounds the notion of superiority, that one race is superior or inferior to another. However, I would say that when individuals who are often part of the "inferior" race, vote along with their own race, simply because of race, it is because of a notion of solidarity, not superiority. And yes, it makes me sad that we have resorted to voting, based on solidarity. Solidarity is NOT how ANY of us should be voting. So I would share with my friends frustrations, that this potentially could be two steps back. If we are basing our vote on simply standing in solidarity with someone who is similar to us, rather than voting on policies which we think will benefit the majority of the citizens of our country, then we haven't moved forward at all.
However, the HOPE that I see from this election, and its results, is not provided by those who voted ONLY to stand in solidarity with a man who is from a minority in this country. The HOPE that I see from this election, surrounds the fact that there are (what appears to be) a majority of people who chose to see past race in order to vote Barack Obama into office. Even if it is not a majority, there are enough people in this country who have not made race an issue.
I see HOPE that even though prejudice and racism abounds in this country, even though there is reverse racism, and even though we are inventing all sorts of new prejudices to separate us as human beings, there was enough working together, and there was enough unity for at least one day in my life, that we have voted a minority into office. That somehow race was pushed aside ENOUGH – I'm confident not completely – BUT ENOUGH that it has not determined this race.
Unity does not ask us to push aside our differences completely. Rather unity calls us to identify our differences, work through them, accept them, and to focus on those things which bring us together.
And with that being said, I'll step off my soap box by ending this blog with a news article. Two friends of mine who I go to school with at the seminary shared a birthday yesterday, but they did not share their vote. And their relationship made news here in Lexington amidst the noise of the election and the candidates. http://www.kentucky.com/139/story/579691.html
My sincere hope is that regardless of who you voted for, we can all support our president. I hated it when people said following the last election, "he's not my president." Yes he is. That doesn't mean you have to ALWAYS be impressed with him, or always AGREE with him, but in the end, respect him, because the majority of your peers and your fellow citizens have seen enough leadership in him, to call him to be our next leader. It is my sincere hope that this election can bring together our country, and remind us that we are indeed the UNITED States of America.