I have been overwhelmed these past few days, hosting an election night party and then heading straight to the library to prepare the presentation for today. (I believe there were several hours of sleep in between, but I may have dreamt that.) Between the slides, I peeked at the post-election punditry, and was surprised, pleased, and deeply moved by how the country changed overnight. Americans voted in favor for gay marriage for the first time, and in three states. Marijuana is decriminalized in two states. Openly queer people, people of color, people with visible disability have all become representatives. Black people, Latin@s, APIAs, women, single people all voted overwhelmingly Democratic. Two-thirds of the white male population voted Republican, and they still couldn’t get their guy into the White House.
Tuesday night was deeply symbolic.
It is still early for voter turnout data (or I am still too busy), but a cursory glance at the early numbers imply that all these people who are not white straight cis men, these people who face oppression and silencing in American society, these “minorities” told the “majority” that they will not have their lives determined by the ruling class. The “minorities” lawfully exercised their right to choose the vision that they thought right for them. We were not just re-electing a Democrat or America’s first black president. We “minorities” more confidently used our voices, and we have been heard. We are not “minorities” anymore.
More, we “minorities” re-elected one of us. Obama is half white but he is also half black. He is both Midwestern and Pacific Islander. He comes from a single parent household where he watched his mother raise two children while working to make ends meet and then towards a Ph.D. He himself worked as a community organizer, then becoming the first black president of Harvard Law Review, and now he is President of the United States for a second term. He is a product of love and sweat. That is a very American story. However, there is an additional overlay. Obama is biracial, but he is also multicultural.
Obama is the first black president, but he is also the first president who embodies this new America, this majority of minorities with complicated backgrounds, who are slowly having more opportunities because we have fought for them. Even if you disagree with his policies, you must understand that he has become bigger than just his title. He is an icon of hope and change, because having him in the White House, not for just one but for two terms, shows that the American fabric has changed, that there is hope for even the smallest of us to do great things, and that one’s path, no matter how hard it will be, is always onward and forward.
No, Mr. President, thank you.