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Celebrating the Possibilities

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

During the recent elections, schools around the country held mock elections as a way of teaching schoolchildren about the democratic process. Two of the occupants of our home participated in their school’s election. Both individuals used the same criteria but with opposite results. Each voter selected a candidate that “looked like me,” referring to skin or hair colour. A benchmark test they need to learn is not the best way to select a national leader.

But it got me thinking. Why was it that I sat, transfixed, by the image of this ethnic family on the stage in Grant Park on the evening of November 4th? What could I possibly have in common with the darker-skinned faces smiling at me through my television screen? And then it hit me.

We share a common path, the African-American community and us. We have been shut out of the same jobs. Closed out of the same neighbourhoods. Kept down by the same quota systems that is STILL on the books of some Ivy League universities. We have faced the same unadulterated hatred and prejudice that has poisoned generations of Americans. And we have clung to the common belief that, in fact, all people are created equal in the sight of God and are deserving of certain, unalienable rights. Including the Constitutional right that is granted to all natural-born American citizens over the age of 35 (and who have resided a minimum of fourteen years in the country) to reach the highest office in the land.

Who would have believed that the same nation that heard the call to conscience from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by a Baptist preacher just two score ago would be the same nation to elect a multiracial man as its President? When I look into the face of Barack Obama, I see my own people’s struggles and successes reflected back at me. When I look into his face, I see possibility. The possibility that one day it might be a Jew who is elected.

Today, on January 20th, the nation is observing Inauguration Day. Conservative or Liberal. Democrat or Republican. White or Black. Jew or Gentile. It makes no matter. Inauguration Day is a day to celebrate the hope for which America has stood since her inception. Inauguration Day is the day we celebrate possibilities.

(Cross-posted on Modern Jewish Mom)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 20 January 2009 9:09 pm

    well said.

  2. Ariel permalink
    Sunday, 25 January 2009 2:34 pm

    I’m currently reading a book about an orphan abduction in Arizona in the early 1900s – and about the transformation of the children as they left New York “Irish” and landed in the Southwest “White”.

    I grew up in rural Missouri – a Jewish kid, in rural Missouri.

    I was not White in the community of my childhood – although I could “pass” for white if people didn’t know me or my family.

    At least as complicated and interesting a question as ‘what is race’ – and other than as a social construct does race even exist (I’d argue no) . . . is also the question of what it means for so many Jewish people to consider ourselves White (capitalized). Additionally, what is the racial identifier for someone who is a multi-racial Jew?

  3. knittnkitten permalink
    Thursday, 29 January 2009 9:01 pm

    I have returned, thought this might go along with the theme…

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