Reflection on History

I have given myself last few days since the election time to let the enormity of this historic event sink in. I was talking to my F about the excitement surrounding the election of Barack Obama as our 44th President and I told her how I felt the night We The People made history.

I was flipping from CNN to ABC to BBC and settled on WGN to watch Obama make his victory speech and I thought back and reflected on how far this country has come in the terms of racism and prejudice.

In the late sixties, my first real experience with racism came was when my Family was traveling to Florida. Florida still had its stronghold on discrimination practices in 1968 and could not seem to let go of Jim Crow. As our parent’s practice my brother Jim and I would check out menus at restaurants to see if the prices were good and the food was fair and report back to Mom and Dad.

I remember on one occasion that I will always remember is going into a restaurant and seeing a “Whites Only” section. Being around 8 years old I had no idea that this was the very tip of the cold and calculating iceberg of discrimination. I just thought it was wrong and I was angry.

The Wheaton College kids that called me a papist for wearing my Saint Michael’s school uniform and laughed at me as if their form of religion was superior. I hope that these ignorant kids grew up and learned tolerance.

I recalled filling out Social Security cards for my sons and pausing for a long time at the section “Caucasian” or “Asian” descent. I actually feared that what happened in the Forties could happen again and that I may be dooming my sons to any forms of discrimination due to their Japanese heritage. I marked “Asian” descent and vowed that no one would profile my child. I stood strong for my sons.

The babysitter’s husband that stated “My wife ain’t babysitting a “gook” baby.” I disdained this man.

The teachers that asked when I had “adopted” my son not believing a blond 6 foot woman could give birth to a beautiful son with Asian features. I stared with shock and disgust.

The Family Services of Wheaton that dissuaded my attempts at fostering a black child because I was white and could not “understand” the culture I wept for that child.

The boss that told me because I was a single mom of three, the job I had was the best I could ever do. I proved them wrong.

It is just not the African American population that suffers from racism, prejudice and bias. Although, they have suffered much of the brunt of this awful practice there are many colors and creeds that suffer silently as well.

I hope that this election of Barack Obama starts to change the way we treat one another. I will not give up hope for that.

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5 Responses

  1. I wept in Grant Park on Tuesday night. I wept for the 4200 soldiers that have died in Iraq. I wept for all the suffering that has taken place under the hands of our government. It was one of the greatest nights of my life to stand with African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and countless other beautiful diverse faces to welcome our new President. I am savoring the moment and looking forward to all the possibilities of Change.

  2. I do not think there is anyone who has not had racism or discrimination touch them in some way. Even if it was to simply watch history unfold, everyone has had some form of prejudicial experience. But with this election, the little speck of “different” that has kept people apart is now disolving. Thanks F for your comment.

  3. I saw a photo of Chicago at Make It Stop.

    I know that there were different races standing together and realizing a goal and a change for America and it’s people were being shown to all the world that we were one America.

    I have come to believe that racism is a fear, charged with ignorance from what our pass left us. If we could get beyond the pass and realize that we cannot stand strong as a country if we are divided, but we can show the world and ourselves that we can all come together and be one with the same goal.

  4. Tuesday night was indeed a night of celebration and giving thanks to those whom we knew had fought long and hard for this day. I imediately called my father and simply said, “Dad, thanks…you made this possible.”
    In 1968 during the Democratic Convention and the riots in Lincoln Park, my Dad was working as director of “Soul Train” and other multi-cultural programs at Channel 26 WCIU (now known as “the U”) Dad stood by this friends and the kids who came to dance. Many of his friends were actually members of the Black Panther Party. A very angry group of young adult African-Americans who were sick and tired of being denied basic human dignity and were ready to fight to the death to get it.
    Some did.
    But, my Dad knew they were right even if their tactics were really extreme. My dad, the white guy from Canada who still to this day cannot vote here in the US. Did what his heart told him was the right thing to do. He stood up for these kids and his friends…and they returned the favor many times over.

    But my tears of joy of that night were all too quickly replaced with tears of anger when the news Wednesday that California Proposition 8 and passed. The proposition to make same-sex marriage once again illegal in California. After that state’s own Supreme Court had already ruled it was unconstitutional to disallow same-sex marriages…still the anti-crowd launched a campaign of pure hate, Anti-Americanism and Anti-Family tactics to reverse the California Supreme Court decision.
    Those supporting Prop 8 used lies such as “they’ll indoctrinate your kids into the ‘gay lifestyle’ in schools’ and ‘they’ll put sactions and injunctions against churches who refuse to marry gay couples'”
    Any lie to get voters riled up.
    And it worked.

    So, my happiness for our win in the fight against racism and towards true Equality in this nation was cooled by the step back we took when it comes to gays and lesbians being truly equal.

  5. Wow! What a photo “Let’s Talk” and

    Stac…. Good to hear from you. Your Dad has led a very interesting life!

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