A caller to a radio show today said that he still hadn't come down off his election night high. "It's two days later!" the radio host said. The caller responded he hopes he "never comes down". I've seen pictures of people of all hues and nationalities weeping at the news of Obama's election. Former and current colleagues of all ethnicities reveal their support and euphoria at Obama's election. I still don't quite understand it all.
I do have episodic enlightenments that alight like snow flurries. Like--
I expect there will be a lots of namesakes born in upcoming months and years. Kindergartens will be rife with Barack Goodmans and Obama Johnsons and the like, and given the international impact of Obama's election, likely Barack Bondugulas and Obama Fomovs too.
The effect on Black Americans (and by that I mean, the descendants of slaves in America, not directly African American individuals like Obama)is more easily understood and undulates in waves.
When Barack Obama was born, Black Americans didn't even have the right to vote, let alone sit where we wanted to on a bus, or drink or eat at any public restaurant we chose. We were only "granted" those rights after years of protests and assasinations. THAT fact is why people like Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten and jailed protesting for the right to vote, wept like a baby when Obama accepted the nomination in Denver, and maybe why Oprah and Jesse Jackson were crying at Grant Park in Chicago. Obama's election provides catharsis for painful legacies, but the sight of Obama and his family in the public sphere also ameliorates current, pervasive, harsh realities in the Black American community. Generations of thousands of children with absentee or ineffective fathers, have a Daddy figure, more present in their lives than their biological fathers have been. Every day, at any time, there will be a Black man for them to look up to --not an athlete nor an entertainer, but the Leader of the Free World-- accessible via the newspaper, YouTube, the bookstore, as a role model for their own possibilities.
Black women will see a Black woman, patently respected and loved by an honorable man who is a father and provider to her children.
Black men themselves will have a role model, an educated, accomplished, universally-respected family man, equally at home talking trash on the basketball court as he is talking tough to world leaders.
In Barack Obama, Black people's better selves are affirmed. Yes! we can. Maybe it's the same for everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity.