I hold these truths to be self-evident

A secret, filter-free:

Not only do I still find it unbelievable that Barack Obama won — and I mean literally unbelievable; as in it feels exactly like when I realize that I’m dreaming because something impossible has happened — but I actually start to tear up if I think about it too much.

The civil rights movement is extraordinarily inspirational to me (more than any other single event/person/process/etc), and seeing a black president just 40 years after Martin Luther King was murdered fills me with an emotion so unexpected and intense that I don’t have a name for it.

To be clear, this isn’t about politics. I’m not interested in what happens to taxes or guns or gas prices in the US. What moves me is to see a black American carry himself to the office of president through the power of oration, motivating a culture that has never trusted the establishment to participate in it instead of combating it.

I’m Canadian, but my grandfather was a black man born in Philly, and his family name — the same name I was born with — is the name of the white family from Virginia that owned his (and my) ancestors, not that many generations ago. Seeing things come full circle from slavery is a deeply personal and powerful experience.

We’re certainly not in Dr. King’s world yet, where a man is judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin; but we are one step closer to the brotherhood he dreamed of, and that moves me very nearly to tears every time I think about it.

I almost didn’t include any family history in this, because I feel like people will write me off as soon as they read it. It makes it easy to treat me as someone who’s just happy one of his own is on top (even though I’m not black), rather than a spectator who is ‘legitimately’ amazed by what a group of people have managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time.

14 thoughts on “I hold these truths to be self-evident

  1. why on earth would someone who is acquainted with you in the least write off your opinion due to the mention of race, colour and history?

    I noticed that people of colour were holding their heads higher on Wednesday. It has changed everything for the better. finally.

    I think your family history is amazing. You should be proud. Why not!

    It finally feels like equality in North America is not just talk.That is a wonderful transition for everyone.

  2. I also have been moved to tears every time I think about Obama. It gives me hope for many other things. It shows me that I’m not stupid for having the dreams I do, I just have to be patient. I just have to believe.

    It shows me we can change the world, one little step at a time.

    And I’m white. My family may have black heritage somewhere but I’ll likely never know. But it changes nothing for me. I still feel proud for America.

  3. i got a little teary during his speech once i realized it was real.

    little bit of irony in the whole martin luther king thing since you brought it up. Arizona is the only state in the nation that does not recognize MLK day as a holiday. The man instrumental in bringing this about is the very man that Obama beat in the election.

  4. Yes, and many of the coloured people who voted for Obama voted against homosexual marriage in California. Wrap your mind around that one.

  5. Bigotry and blindness exists everywhere. To me, it’s not a surprise to see it from people who have been affected by it their whole lives. We’re all products of our environments.

  6. It is a tremendous achievement….but it is the symbolism that will inspire people more. The “Myth” in the US is that anyone could become the President with enough work and skill, but for too long, that had an added, invisible phrase “only if you are a white male, or appear to be”. This is why Obama’s election is mythic, literally.

    Yes, the US has come a long way as this event shows…but still has a long way to go. Race is still a driving factor in much of the US South, and rural America. It still rears it’s ugly head in Canada too, but no where near as often.

    Dr. King marched for equal rights for all…he marched through the South to Washington, to the doors of the Capital. Obama’s election is the completion of that march. All that is left is for the rest of the US to realize that. I am sure there are shocked faces of people I knew in Charlotte because of this election. Those who used words like “The Dark Side of town”, and such. But with every generation, attitudes like that are dying off, literally! When the Baby Boomer generation dies of in the South, a lot of the racism there will die with it.


  7. How {exactly} is that an excuse?

    “Since I’ve been oppressed my entire life, I feel it’s my duty to oppress someone else when I get the chance”?

    That just proves what we’ve already known for quite awhile, that people no matter race/creed/or colour oppress when they see that they are the one’s on the top of the dog heap.


  8. I’m explaining bigotry, not excusing it. It’s no different than every abusive father who had the shit kicked out of him by his dad as a child.

  9. I was watching the polling results come in with my 8 year old daughter, and explaining to her why Obama’s win would be historical and what it would mean to so many Americans. She suddenly said “I understand, but I’ve noticed that that there are never any women becoming Prime Ministers or Presidents” and then she went back to colouring her picture.

    When Obama won, I told her that I think we may be closer than we’ve ever been to seeing a woman have a chance. Obama broke a lot of barriers and made a lot seem possible overnight that was definitely impossible before he won. It was moving in so many ways.

  10. I’ve noticed that that there are never any women becoming Prime Ministers or Presidents

    You could show her that there have been, just not in the US. Pretty much every other major western nation has had women as head of government and/or head of state. Canada, UK, France, Germany, Israel, Switzerland…

  11. This win was far better than a black man finally making it, this was a man that crossed all borders to reach the people, he just happened to be black. Obama never made it about race. The media and interest groups made him black.
    I listened to most his speeches on sat radio and this is where I was struck that this was a president of hope. Not a black president, not a tax president, not a people president.
    The world stands in awe!

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