Wednesday, November 5, 2008

AND YES, I DID CRY

Like many of you I suspect.

Some of the younger people I was watching it with—of every hue, mostly mixed race but a few who are what's still called "white" and what's still called "black"—were excited and thrilled and jubilant and extremely hopeful, but none were experiencing it as those of us who had been there when.

The big objection to my interracial romance when I was a teenager and young man, and our desire to marry, was not just the legal restrictions that still existed in many states banning interracial marriages, let alone the societal restrictions (most interracial couples I knew kept it hidden from the outside world as much as possible), but the admonition that it was unfair to the offspring of such a marriage because after all, society would reject the children of mixed race marriages and they would be ostracized and unable to make a living and a good life for themselves.

"Think of the children" was all I heard back then.

Well, look's like that argument was as backward looking as I labeled it as a kid. I remember arguing with my father and brothers and "white" friends and associates, as well as some "black" ones too, that the future would be different, that we were entering a new world in which "contrast"—as I used to refer to the mixing of the races and called my crowd of racially mixed friends "the contrast clan"—would be the norm, not the exception to be scorned.

For awhile it looked like I, and those who believed like me, were prescient, when the segregation and anti-misegenation laws were eliminated, and the Civil Rights movement gained momentum and then victory after victory.

Then in reaction to those victories the rise of the right and its reactionary views and subliminal or coded racism (i.e. "silent majority" in which the only thing that was "silent" was the word "white" in the middle, or Reagan's "welfare queens," or this campaigns attempts to associate Obama's blackness with unAmericanness, etc. and the "real America" with white rural and sometimes racist "America")

But for those of us who took part in the Civil Righst sturggles, we knew things would never return to the old ways.

I often get caught staring at young mixed race couples (I live in a community where they sometimes seem more common than same race couples) and the younger ones often give me a look like the only thing they think an older white man can be staring at them for is to express his disapproval. But in fact, I am only reveling in being right when I was a kid, in being grateful that those of us who fought and often suffered pain and scorn and jailing and worse were right, and that the world has become a more tolerant and integrated place than it was when we were young.

The kids at this party last night had no idea what I and those like me went through when we were their age, and others went through even worse, to contribute to making this day possible. Maybe that's a lot to lay on the shoulders of this new president-elect, but he seems more than capable of carrying it—the hopes and gratitude and overwhelming belief that yes, we can all get along, or at least almost all, enough to create a new world again.

6 comments:

Jamie Rose said...

Yes Lals. Yes.

harryn said...

yes lals. yes ...

JIm said...

Hail to the Chief! God bless America.

Connie said...

I still have my Obama/Biden lawn sign out front and this morning I added the American flag. It's time for the rest of America to take the flag back from the Republicans.

Caitlin said...

I cried this morning explaining to a six year old what "historic" means, and why we were watching t.v./computer in the morning during breakfast. I asked her to look at the man on the screen's skin and then look at hers. I asked her to tell me the difference. Then I told her that during Grandpa Michael's childhood things were very different. I told her that we couldn't all sit on the bus together once upon a time and there was a woman who said no when asked to move to the back of the bus. I told her that we get to eat in restaurants together, go to the same bathrooms together, and that it didn't use to be like that. I tried to shine a light on why this was a day that would go down in the history books, just like that lady on the bus. Who knows if she got it, but I did and I wept.

JIm said...

Stock market down 9% since the election, intra day. It seems like it has had all the hope and change it can stand. Hopefull he picks some grownups for his financial team quick. The spectre of Pelosi Reid is financially scary.