“If your grandfather could have been alive to see this, he would have heard that speech, fallen over, and died a happy man.” – my mother, late last night
After an 11-hour shift constructing an election show, after all those hours watching MSNBC as the results came in, as President-Elect Barack Obama won Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Virginia, and then was taken over the top by my home state of California, after seeing those thousands gathered in Grant Park in Chicago, and watching this leader, this good man, give an absolutely moving speech upon his election, all I can do is think of what my grandfather would have said if he could have seen this day. After decades of living in Harlem after coming over from Barbados in 1918, if he could have lived to see the day when a black man would ascend to the highest office in the land, I know he would have told me this, the same thing he would tell me as a child when he would fly out from New York to visit my mother and me in Los Angeles:
“You see? I told you that you can be anything you want. Anything at all, even president.”
There is still so much to do, to fight for the end of racism, stupidity, and willful igrorance in America, but we cannot pretend that this is not a giant step forward in that fight.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I want to cry, it feels so good to have some form of hope again. I do not profess to believe that Obama is capable of solving every problem; that he can deliver on everything we hope and see in him. I will criticize him if he takes policy stands I think are wrong. However, after eight years of a country where logic, reason, and intelligence were seen as dirty words by our leadership, it is nothing short of wonderful to see a man, an intellectually curious and intelligent man, to lead our country again.
Yes, we can. Yes, we did. And yes, we can do so much more on our own, and with him as someone to look up to. We cannot be complacent, but we have the audacity of hope.