Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday Musings on Race, the Election, Christopher Columbus, etc.

I actually did write this on Monday, but I couldn't to the internet until today.

Tomorrow our new president takes office. Today Martin Luther King Jr's life was celebrated. I think it's appropriate for the new President to take office on the day after we remember a great man. He wasn't just a great black man, or a great black leader, but one of the greatest men of this country. Whites, too, can appreciate all he did for our country. Yes, I don't know how it is to be discriminated against because my skin color is dark. Yes, some of my ancestors did own slaves. Some of my ancestors also fought in the Civil War against the slave owning South. He helped free everyone in this country from racism and hate, not just African Americans.

I believe this country has come very far in the 41 years since MLK was assisinated. Did he imagine that it would take about 40 years for a man "of color" to get elected president by the majority of the country? Did he wonder if it would ever happen? To me it was a surprise only because Obama seemed relatively unknown (at least to some of us outside Illinois). I thought if an African American man had a decent shot at the presidency, it would be someone more well known in politics, such as Colin Powell (not the only example, of course).

Does it matter to people in this country that Obama is "only" half black? In my opinion, it's an asset. Not that I wouldn't have voted for him if his mother were black. But he grew up part of more than one culture, which is good experience for dealing with leaders of the world. His living in a Muslim country for part of his childhood to me was also an asset. He may have more respect for the beliefs of Muslims (and other religions) than W, and more experience around "ordinary" people of different cultures, not just kings, presidents, etc. And as a "mixed mutt" (which he called himself), he represents many Americans who are the same, such as me.

On the subject of race...I was reading a friend's book called "A people's history of America". Most stories of Columbus "discovering" the Americas (forgetting that there were people already here!) glosses over his treatment of the natives. This book shows how unjustly they were treated, how many were killed, enslaved, and driven off their land. Why did the Europeans think they were a superior society to the Native Americans, and other minorities in the world? What made them think that white was better? This is something that I cannot fathum. One's color doesn't make them better or worse, smarter or dumber than someone else. Why is race such a big deal? Maybe I can't understand it, not having been through racism myself. Just because I didn't descend from slaves doesn't mean I can't appreciate and rejoice in the equality of races. Yes that's not totally here (yet!), but it is close. Our presidential election proved that.

Obama. A President for all races.

A.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Lisa said...

Even though I'm concerned about abortion and another attack, I did tear up seeing Obama take the oath on the Lincoln Bible. Just looking at him sitting in the Oval Office instead of Bush and Vice made me feel better. His race is no big deal. But, I hope that if nothing else we don't need affirmative action anymore since Obama is proof that a Black man can be a good prez.

11:24 PM  
Blogger An. said...

What do you mean, worried about abortion? Since he's liberal?

11:27 AM  

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