Dreams and Hope

I was born after Rosa Parks’ famous stand on a bus in Alabama. I was born after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Washington D.C. and “I Have a Dream” speech. I was born after my father worked hard to graduate from college with an engineering physics degree and to prove his own worth across racial barriers. I was born after “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. I was was born after Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura shared the first inter-racial kiss on television. I was born after Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and after Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a salute to black power at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. I was born in a world built for me from the blood, sweat, and tears of generations.

My great-grandfather told me that his grandfather remembered being set free from slavery. My mother showed me pictures of her childhood and noted that at the time, it was common for commercial photographers to overdevelop images of light-skinned black people so that the photos would appear more obviously black and could not be used to confuse anyone.

My parents fought for their rights and for mine before I was even born. I have never had to deal with most of the problems that they had as children. The limits placed upon me have been minuscule compared to those that were already overcome.

I have never doubted that I could be whatever I desired. I could do whatever my skills allowed me to do. The chances were there; all I needed was to work at it. I have done my best to instill that same belief in my daughters, but nothing seems to have jazzed them to it like Barrack Obama’s win last night.

I voted for him as MLK, Jr. might have said, not because of the color of his skin, but the content of his character, but to tell the truth, his race means more to me than I thought it would. In the recent past (after I had already made my decision), I have read of Obama’s childhood and it resonates with my own. For the first time, I have voted for a candidate who actually understands where I am coming from; our shared history in the American experience combined with his obvious intelligence and diplomatic ability brought forth feelings in me that I struggle to describe. But upon further reflection, he has already done it for me.

I have hope. Hope for the future. Hope that we can and will work together to bring about a world that our children will find a little better than the one in which we currently live.

Time to get to work.

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18 responses to “Dreams and Hope

  1. Oddly, I never think about your race. it just never occurs to me. that’s likely because we never see each other, of course, but you’d think it might have come to mind once or twice during this election, wouldn’t you?

    • I rarely think about my own race unless it is pointed out to me. I am comfortable around a wide variety of people. That is one of the things that I like about Obama. He did his best to make this election about real issues, not race. He never talked about himself as a Black candidate or an African-American one although he had a better claim to that last descriptor than most people in the US who use it. I get the feeling that while he is aware of race, it is not the way that he defines himself. And that is one of the things that we have in common. And that is one of the reasons why I identify with him so strongly.
      Or to put this another way, in response to your response … “thank you. Perhaps the reason that you do not think about my race is because I do not either and it becomes less on an issue that way.”

      • Agreed on all counts. it’s a weird time in history. We’re sort of right in the middle where, to most people, race is not only not a big deal, but it’s not even an issue. Sure you can make some assumptions about it still, probably you always will be able to, I think most people really don’t think of people of different races any differently, except as a person with a different background.
        but there are still pockets where race is a big deal and racism is really still a problem. it’s sort of like most of us evolved and we’re trying to figure out what to do with the people in the tribe that still have tails.

      • Exactly.
        For some reason, this reminds me of an English class that I took as an undergrad. We were discussing various media and the ways that they portray people of different races and cultures. We came to the conclusion that the “most fair” shows on television in that regard were Sesame Street and The Simpsons. Sesame Street because it did its level best to show all types of people as equally good and The Simpsons since it showed all types of people as being equally ridiculous.

      • You have a brilliant point there

      • My brilliance is only matched by my luck in having sweet friends like you! 🙂

  2. I was born after Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and after Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a salute to black power at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
    *******
    Did you read about the Australian guy, Peter Norman, who was with them? He got totally ostracized by his racist gov.’t
    and society, ended up dropping out of sports and became
    an alcoholic. He never got any credit, though — only except
    when he died, when Smith and Carlos came to his funeral.
    Talking of Obama…you do know that his ancestors did not include
    any slaves, yet did include slave-owners? Not that it changes much — just a trivia.

      • Yes, I had read about both of these facts. Actually, Smith and Carlos kept in contact with him throughout their lives. Not close contact, of course, but it sounds as though they wrote each other letters every now and again. It is sad that Norman never got any respect in his own country.

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