05 November 2008

Yes We Can

A year ago today, we had no hope. Our current president and his administration were committing atrocities on a nearly weekly basis, making a mockery of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold, and demonizing half of us to pander to the other half. The Congress we had elected in 2006 to stop him ... wasn't. Our leaders were too busy playing shell games with each other while feeding us lies and platitudes, and no one knew what to do about it. I doubt I was the only one who was waiting for a revolution to come.

A year ago today, the dominant race and culture of America had all the power, and they did not mean people like me when they talked about "real Americans." Every day in a thousand subtle ways they told me that I am not one of them, I am not the same. My voice is irrelevant because I am merely a guest here and I do not matter.

Then came a man with a voice from the other side. A man who has lived in the same America that I live in, who sees all of the flaws in it that are invisible to every leader that has come before, those that we're "supposed to" vote for by tradition (of the dominant race and culture). A man who speaks sincerely and plainly about the things that actually matter, a man who isn't trying to fill us with platitudes to hide his true agenda, a man who cuts straight to the truth.

Thank you, President Obama, for finding a way to bring on the revolution from within, for having the courage to reach across the Decider's divide, for volunteering to redeem us in the world's eyes. Thank you for daring to take a stand as a black man representing the voices of all minorities, for challenging us to add our voices to yours, for letting us take back the country that was and always has been ours. Thank you for showing the world that we are Real Americans too.

A year ago, we lived in fear. Now we have hope. A year ago, I was ashamed to be an American. Now I can be proud.

Yes we can.


alcar said...

376 words lost from your nano ... the price of history.

And, in all seriousness, another congrats :)

MWT said...


Several hours too. I've gotten nothing else done today while trying to figure out how to say that. :p

Nathan said...

I'm still just idiotically happy about this. And I found out that if I'd only gone outside and walked a block, I could have been in the middle of one of those spontaneous gatherings that happened last night.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It is so beautiful and so true and powerful. I'm still flying on my joy and relief at his being elected. Things are going to change for the better!

Anonymous said...

You know, I never knew you felt like that - about marginalization.

I guess that's part of being part of that majority, we can be pretty oblivious. And I'm sorry.

But I AM happy about Obama's election, for many, many reasons.

MWT said...

It's one of those daily realities that isn't even worth mentioning, first because as you note, whites tend to be oblivious because it's not what they see (see also: a number of Scalzi posts during late summer 2007 where he seriously couldn't grok the concept at all and wrote several posts in a row trying), and secondly until Obama won I don't think it was even conscious enough to articulate. Whites walk around like they own the place. Blacks walk around with massive chips on their shoulders because they can see that. I hadn't actually realized that blacks felt so much like foreigners too until the Whoopi Goldberg thing Nathan linked to; if they felt like that, though, can you imagine what it's like for Asians? :p

I spent my childhood fielding questions from people asking where I was from, who weren't satisfied with an answer of "Indiana" but thought that their answers of various U.S. states were perfectly fine (I've got a great Kentuckian joke based around how it went with one of them...). The first time I tried to get a driver's license (from the DMV in the town I was born and raised) they insisted I needed papers from the immigration office. Everywhere I went in a big group, people learned my name first. In some sense there was a celebritylike status following us around, which could be both good and bad. The first time I visited California, it was a hell of a culture shock to discover that we were invisible, I couldn't understand a word anyone else was saying because there were so many languages, and I couldn't pick out my own family members from the crowd anymore. (And then it was a second culture shock when we came back (to Indiana), and everybody was suddenly the same color and speaking English again.)

I also remember the first time I heard the phrase "real Americans" - in high school from one of my friends then. She was going "yeah, you know. Real Americans." And when I was still confused, she tried, "From America." To which I said "Uhh. You mean like the American Indians?" She looked at me in disgust at that point and changed the subject. :p

MWT said...

Some other things:

a) There is more than one reason why I'm quiet on all the whats about me, and try to keep people focused on the who. I've said before that I want people to look at my words for the words, and not make judgements based on where they think the words are coming from. Race is one of those too.

b) A post from a friend of mine, who although being in the racial majority, is in a number of other minorities. I couldn't figure out how to include it in my post, but it's well worth reading.

c) The Scalzi posts I mentioned were just before his six-week hiatus due to severe database issues. They don't appear to be in the archives on the Whatever (I think they were posted in July or August), and I'm too lazy to track them down. (Also I'm 13k words behind. o.O)

James Miller said...

A new hope for America : Barack Obama

The victory of Barack Obama is a historical event for America and the world. The next big date is the Presidential Inauguration Day : January 20, 2009.

I have built a countdown clock to the day when President Obama will take office.



Anonymous said...

From the other side of that divide, MWT - I'm a white female American who just happened to be born in Rangoon, Burma. (My dad was military attache at the embassy for 3 years.) My birth certificate includes a registration of birth abroad to American parents.

When I applied for my passport, I got a phone call, asking if I'd need a translator when I came in to sign my documents. LOL

MWT said...

Heh, cool. ;) Do you speak Burmese? (or whatever their language is)

I got told I speak very good English a lot as a kid.

Random Michelle K said...

I got told I speak very good English a lot as a kid.

I've been thinking about this a lot over the past couple days.

What I realized is that I tend to know if someone who looks "foreign" is going to speak with an accent or not, before they open their mouths.

Partially it's the people dress they dress (those thin Chinese socks are always a giveaway) but it's more than the way they dress, it's also the way they walk and hold themselves.

My friend Fan has always been a stylish dresser and around New Years sends me pictures of herself and her daughter and her husband. Just looking at Fan, she's dressed as a stylish Western woman, however, last picture she sent me of her daughter, I immediately thought, "wow! She's been completely westernized!"

They were dressed in a similar manner, the difference is simply how her daughter held herself in the picture versus how Fan held herself.

My point being that it usually seems patently obvious to me when I'm dealing with an American kid with Asian features, versus a kid coming to the US to study.

MWT said...

How about foreigners of other nationalities? I've noticed a pretty distinct difference in demeanor between black people from Africa and black people from the US, for example.

But I think you'd have to be in a place where you see many examples from both groups before you can start noticing any differences. And Indiana was 90-95% white. We didn't even have very many black people where I was.

Random Michelle K said...

I'm about 50% of Africans versus black Americans. And ~25% for Europeans.

It seems to depend upon how much Western influence there is in their country.

India, Pakistan, and China are relatively easy, because the cultural differences are so strong. At least to me.

And I will admit that living in Morgantown, I see a LOT of people who are not white. :)