History

In 1969, when I was in fifth grade, my parents moved from the West Coast to Columbia, South Carolina. In their infinite wisdom, my parents decided that Columbia’s freshly desegregated public schools were no place for a nice white boy. Instead, they put me in one of the new white-only “Christian” private schools that had sprung up to cater to alarmed white parents.

My first week in class, I made an offhand remark to one of my new classmates that I didn’t understand what the difference was supposed to be between white people and black people — they were all just people. He immediately went to the teacher, who promptly had me stand before the entire class and repeat the comment – not to educate them, but to publicly humiliate me for my profound ignorance concerning the inferiority of n****rs.

We’re about to elect an African-American to become President of the United States.

In 1982, my new wife and I moved to Houston, Texas, where she wanted to go to graduate school. I was white, and she was not, a marital arrangement that until fairly recently had not been legal in Texas (or most other Southern states). In Houston, fourth largest city in the country, there were (and probably still are) places that would not serve us.

We’re about to elect an African-American to become President of the United States.

Seattle is different. But not very. In the late ’90s there was a rash of killings of unarmed black men by SPD, and the African-American community was in an uproar. The NAACP, Urban League, and other black moderates joined in the call for meaningful civilian review of police actions. I wrote columns for Seattle Weekly echoing that call. The explicitly racist letters that came in response should not have been surprising.

We’re about to elect an African-American to become President of the United States.

My memories are not remarkable; they’re snapshots of a reality tens of millions of people continue to experience in America each day. A colorblind society would be great. We’re not there yet. Like most of my African-American friends, I have a hard time believing this is happening; but I’m sure glad it is. Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policies — and as I noted yesterday, I’m not thrilled by them — this election will go a long way toward reestablishing America’s moral credibility in the eyes of the world. Race does matter, here and elsewhere. So does class. And Obama is correct to note that his inspiring, improbable story is only possible in America.

Unlike 2000 or 2004, this year I’m proud of the American electorate — and it has nothing to do with ideology.

Tonight, regardless of what’s going on in the other races you care about, take a moment to witness history. This is an election that will be taught in civics textbooks for a long, long time.

Remember early on in the campaign, when white pundits were fretting that Obama might not be “black enough” to attract the black vote? Non-white pundits knew better. Beyond being secure in the knowledge that Obama’s white opponents would make damned sure everyone was aware that Obama was The Other (as John McCain and Sarah Palin have predictably done), they also knew that if he got this far, his African-American support would be near-universal. Not because of his policies or the tactics of the McCains of the world, or even solidarity with Obama’s skin color, so much as the future possibilities for those voters’ children, and their skin color.

In the comment thread of another blog a couple of weeks ago, a commenter offered what I think captures the phenomenon of Obama’s (probable) triumph nicely:

Rosa sat, so Martin could march.
Martin marched, so Barack could run.
Barack ran, so our children could fly.

Comments

  1. 1

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    Some of that old school democrat tolerance.
      

    Florida Congressional candidate Eddie Adams Jr. (R) was admitted to Tampa General Hospital Sunday suffering from severe burns on the hands and arms. He will be undergoing additional skin grafts Tuesday.

    A vandal tied a mattress to the underside of Mr. Adams pick-up truck. Friction with the road, and contact with the catalytic converter combined to ignite the bedding.

      
    Strange how white racist democrats always get a pass when attacking black republicans.

  2. 3

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    Let’s see if obama wins in a landslide…
      
    Say like the reagan type of landslide.
      

    Ronald Reagan’s 1984 win over Walter Mondale, 525 to 13 in the electoral vote and 59 percent to 41 percent in popular vote

      
    Or the Bush1 type of landslide
      

    1988, the first President Bush drubbed Michael Dukakis 426-111 in the electoral vote

     
    Or even the nixon type of landslide
      

    Richard Nixon over George McGovern in 1972, 520-17.

  3. 6

    YLB spews:

    We’re about to elect an African-American to become President of the United States.

    What was that you were saying Stamm?

    We win. You lose.

  4. 7

    YLB spews:

    1 …and your assumption that the vandal was a Democrat is based on……?

    Whatever’s shooting out of his butt at the moment.

  5. 8

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    4. ArtFart spews:
    1 …and your assumption that the vandal was a Democrat is based on……?

      
    The same assumption that the “kill him” was yelled by a republican at the palin rally.
     
    Oops, bad analogy.
      
    The “kill him” never happened.

  6. 9

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    6. YLB spews:
    What was that you were saying Stamm?
    We win. You lose.

      
    If obama was the president you feel he’s going to be wouldn’t we all be winners?
     
    Your words once again prove the hatred from the left.

  7. 10

    Daddy Love spews:

    3 MS

    So you don’t think 200 electoral votes is “enough?” 369-169?

    If it’s over 400, will you call it a landslide? You should really let us know your bottom line.

    How about if McCain has fewr than half of the 270 votes he needs to win. If it’s 404-134? Landslide then?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  8. 12

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    Rosa sat, so Martin could march.
    Martin marched, so Barack could run.
    Barack ran, so our children could fly.

    And we still don’t know who first said this! Maybe it was Jesse, and maybe it was Jay-Z. I like it.

  9. 13

    Daddy Love spews:

    I’d saty this will be more like 19080, although there is not an Independent candidacy of the size and prominence of John Anderson’s to siphon off votes from the loser (McCain), which will make the electoral vote count somewhat closer.

    Reagan-Carter

    Electoral vote 489 49
    States carried 44 6+DC
    Popular vote 43,903,230 35,480,115
    Percentage 50.7% 41.0%

    Gee, what if it’s 369-189 in teh eclectoeral college, but 54%-42% in the popular vote? I’d call it a more impressive win than Reagan’s 1980 win.

  10. 14

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    10. Daddy Love spews:
    3 MS
    So you don’t think 200 electoral votes is “enough?” 369-169?

      
    Republicans hold reagan up as the benchmark that all republicans should strive for.
      
    Lets use his landslide.
      
    525 to 13 in the electoral vote and 59 percent to 41 percent in popular vote.
      
    Sound good? Or is that way too daunting of a task for your candidate to be compared to reagan?

  11. 15

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    11. wobbly spews:
    do you need a hug, marvin? you seem angry.

      
    Not angry at all, sorry to disappoint you.
      
    I hear the rabbit likes hugs. He’s voting for marcy darcy because she hugs rabbits.

  12. 16

    Michael spews:

    Republicans hold reagan up as the benchmark that all republicans should strive for.

    Lets use his landslide.

    Sorry Marv, We’re not going to let you frame the debate and we’re not going to use your standards for anything other than comedic relief.

  13. 17

    Michael spews:

    From Orcinus:

    http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2.....dwork.html

    Neither Marion police nor state agents believe the fliers are an intimidation tactic, instead viewing them as recruitment.

    The national membership director for the Ku Klux Klan LLC, a chartered organization with its headquarters in Arkansas, said few legitimate KKK chapters have to actually recruit right now.

    “This office gets about 100 calls a day, and it’s been that way since the start of the election season,” said Travis Pierce. “People are looking for answers to what’s going on in this country and they are coming to us.”

  14. 18

    YLB spews:

    Your words once again prove the hatred from the left.

    LMAO!!! Stamm you’ve failed. You said the Dems saddled up the wrong horse and you were wrong.

    You implied if not said outright the Dems were so racist they’d couldn’t possibly nominate an African-American and they did just that. You were wrong.

    You implied if not said outright that the Hillary voters would never vote for Obama. They’ve come to Obama in droves. You were wrong again.

    I don’t hate right wingers, hate is for people like David Duke who chose the Republican party. I just dislike their divisive politics. Intensely even. I never discuss politics with Republicans I know because generally what comes out of their mouths is memes they’ve learned from the Limbaugh show and other right wing talkers.

    You’ve failed Stamm. You’ve failed. You were wrong. Wrong. Terribly wrong. Your agenda has failed.

    You lose.

  15. 19

    YLB spews:

    Hey gang! We’re celebrating the first African-American President.

    And Stamm thinks Dem voters are racist..

    Sheeeshh.. Some people…

  16. 20

    My Left Foot spews:

    So marvin,

    According to you I am racist for voting for Obama and I am racist if I vote for someone else.

    Lemme ‘splain:

    I am racist for voting for Obama because I am showing my “not being racist” card by voting for him simply because he is black.

    I am racist if I vote for McCain because I won’t vote for a black man. (You know us lefties are so conflicted.)

    Here is the way it is marvin, you pin headed jackass. I voted for Obama because he offers more of what I want in a president. He is smart, he is willing to listen, he looks and sounds and acts the way a president should.

    I was for Obama the day he delivered his address to the 2004 DNC. He made me listen and watch. He made me find out more about him. I read his books. I like WHO he is, I like WHAT he has become. This man is a leader. This man has a conscience and this man will do what is right for our country. Not what the interests groups want him to do. He will lead us. Not sit back and and allow the train to run off the track.

    I did not vote for McCain because he represents the past and the continued policies of the Bush administration. I did not vote for him because he chose the most unqualified person in the United States to be his running mate. I did not vote for him because he could not manage his campaign (how was he going to manage the country?), I did not vote for him because he is the furthest thing from the firm and steady hand that this country needs. I did not vote for him because being a POW does not make you a hero. His character is suspect. His temper legendary. He is not presidential material. He was a failed Navy officer.

    No thank you, marvin, I am not buying. You are as ignorant as they come. You have not the sense to see that we need change mostly because you just want to be right. You want to win.

    I did not vote for Obama simply for “my side” to win. I placed my hand on the Obama button because I believe, in my heart, that this man is the best choice to lead this country in this time of great national tribulation.

    It appears he will have the opportunity to see if he can right the ship. For you to be anything less than supportive is un-American and treasonous.

    If you don’t like him or the job he has done, in four years you can vote him out. Until then he is my president and your president.

    Whether you like it or not.

  17. 21

    My Left Foot spews:

    Los Angeles Times today:

    As for Pete Carroll, he said he was voting for Barack Obama.

    “It’s time,” Carroll said. “I’m excited for it, for everybody. Most of all, I’m excited to be represented by him around the world.”

    The story is about him urging his players to vote, no matter who they support.

  18. 22

    harry poon spews:

    I think that Rev. Jeremiah Wright deserves a thank-you from us all for putting Barrack Obama in touch with his African American heritage.

    Our new president (hopefully) comes to us as a whole person in touch with all the cultural aspects of himself, not just half.

  19. 23

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    16. Michael spews:
    Sorry Marv, We’re not going to let you frame the debate and we’re not going to use your standards for anything other than comedic relief.

      
    I don’t blame you for not wanting to compare the messiah to reagan.
     
    After all, reagan had a real landslide.