Friday, August 29, 2008

How to put this

I watched Barack Obama’s speech—twice. The first was live, and the second was with Nigel and his sister. I was impressed both times.

I thought that Barack was speaking not just to Democrats, but beyond to the Republicans and Independents he needs to win over in order to win in November. He described exactly what he’ll do, and in the process completely demolished the negative campaign of John McCain and the Republicans.

I also saw some of the Republican “response” in which the automaton-like commentators repeated the empty talking points of McCain and the Republicans. They do that, of course, because with nothing to offer, they have to resort to negativity and attacks

But none of that was on my mind. Instead, I thought about how I never expected in my lifetime to see an African American become the nominee of either party. I also remembered Dr. King. And, to be direct, I also remembered the inherent racism in my own family and community. I remember the names they called Dr. King before he was killed, and the similar names used in 1988 when Jesse Jackson was running for president.

I wish I could say that I was born as an evolved being, that I was pure and beyond racism or prejudice of any kind. That’s not the case. Like most people, I was the product of my upbringing, my family, friends, school, church and community. I struggled against what I was in order to become what I could be.

I like to think that maybe, just maybe, the groundwork that Dr. King laid down 45 years ago led not just to the reality of Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, but also for ordinary white boys from the suburbs like me to so strongly embrace Barack’s campaign. It was Dr. King’s dream that we could all join together one day; should it really be so surprising when we see it?

So to me Barack becoming the Democratic nominee is more than just the obvious historical advance that everyone talks about. For me, it represents not just how far America has come, but how far I have come, too. Maybe Dr. King would be happy with both, but I’m not. There’s still work to be done.

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