As I waited in line the Saturday before Election Day for early voting here in my area of North Carolina, I realized that I was taking part in history in the making. The possibility of the next President of these United States of America being an African American sauntered through my mind and my heart raced with excitement. I could not wait to be guided to my voting station, cast my ballot, and leave knowing that I participated in an event that my ancestors fought and died for. Amongst the crowd were my elders, my peers, and people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures. I could not help but be amazed as I placed one foot before the other in line to move forward. After I voted, I wondered, “How will this end? What is really going to happen?” Of course the obvious consensus between me, myself, and I was a win for Barack Obama. I never dreamed that the win would come in the form of a landslide with President-Elect Barack Obama sailing past Senator John McCain. Not only did I believe he was the better candidate for the job, millions of others believed the same.
As CNN projected each state that Barack took and his gain of the Electoral College votes, I felt my body become weak. I was, light-headed, happy, and overwhelmed with joy all at once. I could not stay up for the duration, but before I fell asleep, the numbers were well within Barack’s favor. I knew ahead of time that a win was more than possible and would be definite. My eyes were not closed for more than fifteen minutes and the calls came pouring in. My cell phone lit up with text messages from family members and friends just as relieved and as happy as I. It all seemed surreal, like a dream that had slapped me in the face with its coming true. What I was not prepared for was the day after the Election.
I work in a somewhat small, private medical practice and some of my coworkers did not share the happiness that I had beaming from my very being. A few negative comments were made, such as; “You do realize that all of these foreigners finally have a pawn in place to do their dirty work. We’re going to get bombarded with terrorist attacks left and right.” These very people still questioned Barack Obama’s background. I shook my head, amazed at some of the idiocy being displayed and kept up the pace in doing my work. I am not surprised by these statements, not one bit. I was born and raised in the South, but I cannot wrap my mind around some of the things I have observed and had the opportunity to happen upon while eavesdropping.
We reside in a nation in which people still attach major stereotypes and their beliefs to any person of color. Folks actually think that President-Elect Obama is going to take on his new role upon the appropriate time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and host house parties catered with fried chicken, collard greens, and chitterlings. They believe he will offer cook-outs and barbecues on the front lawn, inviting the entire block and the surrounding neighborhoods for a grand, old time. I do not have to tell you about the negative posters, tee shirts, and prints available online; all you have to do is Google, you will see exactly what I am referencing. We are living in a new era; a time in which young, African American boys can aspire to be the next President of the United States because this nation helped to make it true. We are living in an era in which the people’s voices were heard about a candidate who upheld his presence, has an actual plan that is plausible, and has displayed so much class throughout this entire process.
Improving our nation’s status does not begin and end with President-Elect Barack Obama. We as a people, as a nation, and as thinkers who yearn for a better outcome must do our part. Your thoughts, questions, and concerns are all top priorities to our next president. If you do not believe me, you can check out his website devoted to change for yourself. When making your suggestions, please keep in mind that our next president is not a miracle worker. Please maintain that he said he would do all that he could to help get this nation back in order, but we must display and offer patience. If your one suggestion is to finally ask about reparations because we will have an African American acting as the Commander in Chief, and you were not there for one catastrophic event, then save your request. In my humble opinion, no amount of money will be proper compensation for what our ancestors had to endure. Your “inherited” 40 acres and a mule is nowhere on his list of actions, I assure you this. Instead, voice your opinion about things that you know needs to be addressed. This is our nation, America. He is our next President. We’ve hoped for so long and now, hope is smiling down on us. And for those of you wondering, no, we’re not going to paint the White House black.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from President-Elect Barack Obama himself:
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Are you truly ready for change? I know I am.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)