This is a social media post I made in January 20, 2009. With the exception of a few grammatical corrections, it is exactly the post I made at the time. This many years later, I’m sad at the division instead of unity in my country. Step back in time with me.
Nothing I say below is necessarily eloquent or different from what millions of other Americans are thinking, saying, and blogging. But maybe that’s the point, we as Americans have the right and even the responsibility to speak. On this so very significant moment in American history, I feel the need to engage in this conversation.
I watched history today with my children, along with more Americans than had ever watched a Presidential inauguration in person and via all forms of mass communication. This alone was historic. Beyond that, on the platform were only the second father and son Presidents. Of course, the obvious reason so many were watching, not only was the son of an immigrant being sworn in as the 44th President, but Barak Obama was our first African-American President.
I say “our” President, yours and mine alike. He was not my candidate, but he is my President. I smiled with him as he and Justice Roberts got out of sink during the swearing in. It was poetic. I could see the excitement and restrained nervous anticipation in his face as this happened. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly acceptable. It added just that touch of humanity, flawed and imperfect, amongst all of the practiced precision of the military honors afforded the outgoing and incoming administrations.
I was opposed to him during the election because of his politics, not his skin. But I, like many of his supports, must confess a sense of … well, of I’m not sure what, a mixture of emotions. Tomorrow, or maybe next week, I’ll do battle with his political ideas, I’m sure. But today, I celebrate a fuller meaning of “we the people” than ever before in America’s history.
So many commentators said it today that it may begin to sound passé, but it is true, nonetheless, only in America could we watch and celebrate today’s events, the peaceful, and in fact, gracious transfer of power of arguably the most powerful nation in history. This alone is amazing enough that it should cause us to stand in awe, let alone witness the inauguration of a man, as President Obama pointed out, whose father would not have been served at a lunch counter in the city because of the color of his skin. But today we as a people – not a race, not an ethnicity – but a people created by an idea that “all men are created equal” turned a page in our collective history.
In 1903, W. E. B. du Bois declared that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Another historic thing about today is that we are facing a financial crisis that if left unchecked could rival that of the Great Depression. So, I hope that we in the Twentieth-first Century have solved, or at least greatly addressed, “the problem of the color-line” because we have many problems facing us in this century.
As I write this, Denzel Washington is announcing the President as they enter The Neighborhood Ball in Washington, D.C., tonight. I’m watching the ball with my daughter and son. I’ve discussed with them that skin doesn’t matter; rather, it’s the person’s character. Maybe their kids won’t even have to have that discussion.
As I said, tomorrow or sometime soon I’m going to have an argument with my President. But, he’s my President. He works for me now, even if I didn’t hire him. I guess it’s OK to argue. After all, it’s all in the family. But tonight I’m going to enjoy the parties and the celebrations and being an American.