Walking downtown today, I searched my surroundings gleefully. The dusty pavement, familiar workers, faceless uniforms of the business crowd, and even the wind failed to share my glow of a new day. They looked, in fact, the same as yesterday and the one before. I asked myself what I was looking for, and it was change that was visibly lacking. Change, after all, is what this election was about. It's what Obama's platform was based on.
So, what has changed?
What is the significance of his election to me?
Perspective, is the short answer. We are all individuals, but black people in America generally share a sense of isolation common among all minorities (beyond race)- a sense that you are not only different, but your differences set you apart in some way from the majority. Hillary Clinton felt it when she stepped on to a male-dominated stage attempting to win the presidency. Many feel it everyday.
But yesterday's election changed things. The majority of the people decided they also shared the same outlook as me. The significance can't be seen on any party platform or candidate issue, the significance is in the unspoken statements. Like the statement that our history, a history riddled with racism and oppression of non-whites, are a thing of the past. The statements of black inferiority and of "real Americans" being "small-town"(and implied white) has shifted from the popular to the minority opinion. The elephant in the room during the entire campaign was "can white people really vote for a black candidate for president?"
Yes, yes they can.
The majority, and it feels good to say it, made a clear statement to the new minority yesterday: that they can move beyond racial politics in their lives onto a new, more inclusive America. I never thought I'd see the day.
I still carry the common burden of being a black man in a predominately white America- an outsider still in at least that sense. But yesterday, the majority of American's said "he's black, so what?"
Thanks for that.