Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Never say never

"Never in my lifetime"

That's all I've heard for the past 24 hours. Sheeit, honestly, its been whispered over the past 22 months since Barack first announced he was running for President of the United (but lately divided) States of America. But last night, while sitting with 2 of my best friends making baby shower invitations , we proved ourselves wrong. We jumped and hollered when we saw that Barack not only met the magic number, he exceeded. Instantly, we heard the crowds downstairs. People, our people were in the streets, cheering, honking horns. Literally dancing in the streets. High up from our perch on the 17th floor, we stepped out on the terrace and celebrated too. We came back in, had a celebratory shot, cracked jokes ("oh look at the Africans dancing in the street in Africa!". "Oh wait, no that's Atlanta!" hahahahahahahaha - man I really wish I had a videotape of that one) and returned to making these invitations. But throughout the night I would whisper, "We got a Black President, ya'll!" in a childlike amazement. And like a child I felt I was watching a movie in wide eyed amazement.

Immediately I alternated between calling my mother, my father, and a friend. With no such luck. It was like freaking New Years Eve when you try to call anyone a second after your boisterous 'HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!" and all you get are busy signals in the age of call waiting or nothing at all.

Sometimes, I reflect on my decision to leave teaching. It wasn't an easy one nor was the road thereafter a breeze. This morning, I thought about my former students as I was getting ready for work. I wished that I was still teaching, just to say to them "See, I told you, anything is possible." This is one of those teachable moments that teachers live for. I remember how brokenhearted I was in 2004, when doing a Martin Luther King lesson, and the kids didn't believe that they could go to school with white people. Living in an area where the only white people you saw were your teachers and the po-po (police officers if you're not up on the lingo...hahahaha), I guess I understood where the kids were coming from. But it was a testament to the limits they had already imposed on their possibilities. At eight years old. I had to bring in my high school yearbook to prove them wrong. They still didn't believe me. But today? Today I wish I could walk in to see the restrictions lifted. These kids will hopefully FINALLY believe that they can do whatever they desire with hard work and determination. I don't want to want to get all mushy and sentimental. But that's where my mind is today.

Throughout his campaign, Barack has spoken of messages of hope, change and a new direction. I listened. I wanted to believe but was cynical. I knew where my vote was going but Middle America scares the beejesus out of me. They will never vote a black man into the white house. Not in my lifetime. But because of last night, can I now say "why not in my lifetime?"

This victory is not about painting the white house black, barbecues in the Rose Garden, or black folks getting a "free pass" for dumb shit like "yeah, I robbed 4 old ladies but the president is my cousin so don't I get off??". And whoever thinks that life is going to miraculously get better for "us" and worse for "them", is delusional. This is about proving to yourself and to the world that "never in my lifetime" should never exist in one's vocabulary.

The Wiz is one of my favorite movies. I was Dorothy in a production when I was about 10. I still have the soundtrack in double album (and a tape of me as Dorothy safely hidden from the world. LOL). Last night when it was official that Barack Obama was elected president, this was the song that played in my head. It's still playing. I like what this person did on YouTube.


rashad said...

I couldn't have said it better..and if you read my blog, you'll see that I didnt

makeba said...

Good, good, great, great post! Aww man what a day to remember. I was in the streets of Harlem, experiencing the moment on 125th Street when it was flashed upon the screen, 44th President Barack Obama! OMG, what an experience! This is definitely a moment in our lifetime we will never forget and will love to share with our future. O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! I still get the chills.

Janelle said...

Rashad: don't regret that you didn't write about it. I didn't want to write about it either but then I thought about showing my kids and grandkids what I thought at that moment - unedited, unfiltered, untouched by the fading memories of old age.

Keba: I sooo wanted to be on the streets but baby shower duties were callin'. Glad someone I know was out there amongst the people.