Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

Dear Tallulah,

You slept through a defining moment in American History, one that you and I will talk about when you're older. Senator Barack Obama became the forty-fourth president, and first African-American president of the United States of America. You'll learn how it happened when you start taking American History in school, but that's not what I want to preserve for you tonight.

It was not by accident that I took you into the booth with me when I cast my vote. We went to the polls as a family of three, but the women of this family went into the booth together. My mom took me when she went to vote, and since women in the United States have only had the vote since 1920, I thought it was important that I carry you to the booth with me on this, the first presidential election of your lifetime. You should know that we were not the only black women in the polling place. The judge who checked me in was a black woman. (She actually has a son a month older than you.) Every person working the polls for our precinct was a black woman.

Daddy and I were talking about how hasty it was for the newscasters to call states for Obama when not even half the precints had reported. The next thing we know, people are rejoicing. Women are crying, Rev. Jesse Jackson is weeping, the newscasters are speechless. When their voices return, the prevailing refrain is that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that "a man would be judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character," has come to pass. America has overcome.

There was jubilation from many, but not from your mother. In fact, I said to your father that I'd belive this country has overcome when it elects a Native American lesbian who lived on welfare and who's open about the abortion she had, as president of the United States of America. (Your dad is not as cynical as Mommy, don't worry.)

I am pleased Obama won, don't get me wrong. I voted for him, and I would have been very disappointed if he wasn't elected. But his election to the presidency doesn't signal to me change has come, that race is no longer an issue in America. We are overcoming, and this is an important part of a long process.

I'm still struggling with issues of race in America, and you will too, hopefully less than I. It will be tough for the both of us, but know that I always love you, and I'll try to explain the minefield of race, gender, and class as best I can.

The Milk Lady

No comments: