Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Full disclosure: I have been the "first black" many things in my life and I'm often (really, almost always) the "only black" person in a room. How much has that mattered? It's hard to say--it mattered when it mattered and it didn't when it didn't. What mattered is that I rarely conceived of my blackness as something as limiting. My being the first black woman to do this or that never felt as barrier-breaking to me as I'm sure it did to women a generation older than me.

And then this primary election season came around and my blackness started to feel like a burden, not because I felt limited or constrained, but because it seemed that no matter what I did or Obama did or any black person did, we were still in a place where one seemingly angry black man (Wright, who, to be sure is justifiably angry and spot on in so many ways about this country) condemned us all. Where a black woman can't acknowledge that this country has given black people very few things to be proud of without a threat of lynching on national television. I fully, intellectually recognize that I've been jerked around and manipulated by a mainstream media eager for ratings. But, still, it was disheartening and upsetting. I am responsible for sheperding safely through the world two beautiful black girls and to think that one day I have to send them off to a world that will treat them no better than it did my mother or grandmother or great-grandmother is deeply deeply upsetting. That's probably an exaggeration, I know, but it really has felt that way these last few months.

But this morning, when my 7 year old sat eagerly in front of the news waiting to hear the results of last night's primaries and was so excited that Obama will be the nominee (something she predicted last June), I was teary-eyed. Because this is historic. This couldn't have happened before this moment. And my kids will grow up in a world forever shaped by this moment. And that has to count for something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your comments and was touched. You gave me a unique insight into being black in this country. I am thrilled that we can share in celebrating Barack Obama, Michelle, Malia, Sasha (and the as yet to be acquired new puppy) as America's new first family. Please you. Cathy Lyn Harrison