Last night America elected its first black president. We made history, as everyone still enjoys saying. And I think we’ve earned the right to bask in the glow for a little bit.
But listen, there’s still a lot to be done.
First and foremost, it should be stated that, although come January we will have a Black president, that does not mean that racism is “over”. That having a black president does not end the dialogue we have on this blog, on other blogs, and in meatspace about race, prejudice, and the challenges people of color face in this country and the world. Obama’s win only proves that he specifically had what it took to win this election. It wasn’t that any black person could have won, just as not any random woman could have won. McCain made the mistake of thinking that; of looking at people like labels.
So there’s still a lot of anti-racist work to be done. Racism still needs to be eliminated. And while I’m hopeful that having a black president is one major step in that direction, it can also cause a setback as people throw “But we have a black president!” in our faces every time we bring up the deep-seated problems in this country. We can’t let that happen.
Another important thing to remember is that Obama is not perfect and he’s not supernatural. While we can rejoice in his presidency, we can’t cut him any slack. And I think we must be willing, as activists and as non-activists, to work hard for change. He said as much in his speech last night, so let’s hold him to his word. More than ever we need to hold a president to his word this time around.
Am I wrong to feel, to hope, that doing so will be easier? That in 4 years I’m going to feel better about my country than I do today? Obama has never shared all of my values, but I am overwhelmed right now with a good feeling.