Monday, January 19, 2009

A Dream

Tomorrow part of Dr. King's dream will be realized. The very thought of it makes many of us giddy and tearful and sober by turns. It's a rocky path and like true love, it will never run smooth. But it does run.

Even as an American of Irish and German and Dutch ancestry I feel part of this, and that's part of Dr. King's dream as well as mine. As I was born in 1966 I didn't see, first or second-hand, the ugliest manifestations of blatant racisim and xenophobia, but it, along with the best of human nature, is all around us.

I saw a shadow of it in Virginia, in 1989. My ex-husband and I had just moved there. He was in the Navy. We were in our early 20s. I was raised in upstate New York. Few people of color lived in our area, but my mother had grown up in a multi-cultural city area, and had always taught us to respect people in general. In particular, she taught us (my sister, and me) to respect our elders.

Not long after moving in, I walked over to the local supermarket and picked some things up.

On my way out, I paused to let a gentleman in his 70s or 80s go before me. I held the door for him, and said, "Oh, no—you go ahead, sir."

He stopped and stared briefly before thanking me and going out. He seemed startled, but was very gracious.

As you've probably guessed, he was African American.

It wasn't until I was headed home that I realized why he'd reacted that way. It was a shock to me. Not a good one. I hope that his shock was a good one. But I've never forgotten that, or of the time an elderly relative, who had become demented, spit out racist remarks as she relived her past.

I hope that is past indeed. Nothing will be perfect, and I hope those things will not be forgotten, but most of all I hope they will not be repeated.

I am so very glad, happy, and proud that this country; my country is turning such an important corner and that the best person for the job was selected. Not the best man, or the best white man, but the best person.

The sweater?

Yes, it's ready. (The cats helped.) There will be photos later this week.


Batty said...

Please do post pictures of the Hope sweater worn on inauguration day! This really is a historic moment. It doesn't make all the little issues go away (even when overt racism becomes less acceptable, there are still the Little Things that happen in day to day life), but this is huge.

Eileen said...

Check on the post for the 20th...including feline assistance.

I wore it into work, and to an Inauguration Day party after. I'm going to wear it again on Saturday, and show it off at the LYS, with the pin a colleague brought back from Washington.