As the NYT reports: "[His election] was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago." I'm a baby compared to some, like Congressman John Lewis, who have noted the changes in race relations during their lifetimes. But I was alive during the end of Jim Crow. I lived in Texas and Mississippi while America's South was dragged kicking and screaming into LEGALLY doing the right thing, while still resisting integration as lived reality. Ten years after Brown v. Bd. of Education tore down barriers to schooling for non-white children, I was bussed to the all-white school, away from the closer all-Black school in Mississippi. I was in junior high school -- almost twenty years after Brown -- before the first black child attended a white school in my Texas hometown. If you had told me as a child of Obama's election in my lifetime, I would have said, "Nice idea -- never gonna happen!" How wonderful to be proved wrong!
Zoe and Maya are excited today, too, though I'm sure they don't fully understand the significance. Zoe went to vote with me yesterday, and declared the experience "booorrrringggg! But the first thing she said when she woke up this morning was "Did Obama win?!" And we talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what he meant when he prophesized a future where each person would be judged on character and not color.
But for them, I think, today is mostly about the winning. It was funny when we got to school today -- Zoe and her blue-eyed, blond-haired friend Rafael ran to embrace each other, saying at the same time, "OBAMA WON!!!!!" In the election held among students at her school, McCain beat Obama 4 to 1 (what can I say? It's Catholic school in Texas!), which was a bit of a downer for her. She and Rafael campaigned hard for an Obama victory in their second-grade class to no avail. Of course, Rafael's big plan was to tell everyone that McCain kidnapped people (!) and was righly slapped down hard for it! (Don't worry, I was very fair-minded about the whole election thing -- Zoe told me she was going to vote for Obama because I was, and I told her "no way!" and made her learn about both candidates, including asking her grandpa why he was voting for McCain.) On the way to her school after dropping off Zoe, Maya chanted, "Go-Bama! Go-Bama!" and thought herself very clever for thinking of it.
What does Barack Obama's election mean for our children -- and I'm not asking about taxes or terrorism! Does this change anything for them in terms of race relations? As racial minorities raised in transracial families? What are you saying in your families today about the president-elect?