Monday, January 19, 2009

Reflections On The Inauguration Of The First Non-White President

There have been, and will continue to be voluminous amounts of articles and opinion pieces written about the significance of Barack Obama's inauguration, speculation as to his efficacy as a leader, and on and on. This piece is all of that.

I wanted to write a really brilliant article pointing out that Obama is a brilliant politician, professor, and person who happens to have a Kenyan father and African-American wife, as opposed to being a 'Black' President.

The truth, though, is that so many people in this country still see him as a Black President. Now, I don't want to take anything away from the barrier that will be broken by his inauguration, but the fact that we have to celebrate this victory to the extent that we are belies the great distance we have left towards reaching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Dream".

Simply put, when we are truly at the point that we can judge a person by the content of their character, we won't have to celebrate the victory as a victory for Black folks, but as a victory for a better qualified candidate with a better message.

In many ways, I think White people see this as a victory too. It shows that, even when no one is looking and the vote is on the line, White people voted for someone with brown skin and a foreign name.

As a man of many hats I see this occasion through a few different lenses.

As a person under 25, I see the election as a generational shift in terms of ideas, language, and media. Obama is not only young, as presidents go, he is youthful, playing basketball, savvy when it comes to technology, and carries with him an openness to new ideas that characterizes youth.

As a Yid, I appreciate his intellect and compassion, his nuanced approach to situations, and it sure doesn't hurt that he has a few Jewish friends.

As a friend of many teachers, several single parents, and a few social workers, I appreciate the importance of seeing a beautiful, loving, intelligent, and successful African-American family in the White House for creating sense of self-worth, possibility, and dare-I-say....hope.

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