obama08Well, well, well.  It has taken me the last day to compose myself and find the words to express my feelings.  As I got up early on November 4th, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful and excited.  For one, I was glad this election would finally be over, win, lose or draw.  I had determined after the primaries that Senator Obama was my pick.  When I watched him accept the nomination as Democratic Presidential Candidate, a feeling of pride overcame me.  I watched with admiration and hope, but I was cautiously guarded.  My son, a 17 year old high school senior, had been for Senator Obama from day one.  But he hadn’t grasped the issues or seriousness of this wonderful Black Man embarking on the journey.

As I left my home to go vote on the 4th, I prayed.  I prayed and asked God to send us change and to let this election be honest and without drama. Because of the area I live in, I half expected there to be some hostility or mild drama.  As I walked up to my polling place, I was amazed. There were maybe 40-50 people already there at 5:45 AM.  Yes I was there that early. Younger people were there with their stadium chairs and laptops blogging. I keep forgetting the age we live in.  This is the first time in my life I had ever seen bloggers.  People in line, black, white, hispanic, asian, young, old, in-betweens, affluent, working class, Obama supporters, McCain supporters, laughed, chatted and reflected on this long battle.  I walked into the polling place when it was time with my son and had him stand beside me as I made my historic vote.  All the while I was thinking of my Dad.  He was a political junkie and he would have been thrilled to be able to vote for the first Black Man who had a chance. I also wished my son would have been old enough to cast his own vote.

As I watched the election return, my stomach was in knots.  My son, my friend and her son all watched and flipped through channels.  As we watched the board light up with blue and red states signaling returns, I prayed even harder. Finally, I decided around 11PM to change channels to check out Bravo TV. After a few moments, I turned back to CNN and saw the massive celebrations.  At first I couldn’t wrap my mind around things.  We were all yelling “what happened, what happened”.  Then I turned my gaze to the lower right corner of the screen.  Barack Obama had secure way more than the needed 270 electoral votes.  We won. My phone began ringing and we were yelling and celebrating. My friend Monica called me and yelled “In our lifetime girl, in our lifetime!!”.  As emotional as I felt, I still had not shed a tear. My sister called “I told you! I told you! We Won!!”.  I waited for and then watched John McCain’s concession speech.  I was at that moment, feeling a high measure of respect for the man I did not want to get into office.  He handled himself with grace and dignity and sent a message that we needed to unite behind our new president.  Then came PRESIDENT Obama’s speech.  I was so moved.  Watching the emotions of the crowd and feeling the intensity in my family room as we all watched in awe and silence.  Needless to say I was very happy when I went to bed.

I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling invigorated and happy.  I turned on the tv and saw them talking about the new dog PRESIDENT Obama would get his girls.  And the reporter said that she can imagine the fun the girls will have picking out their own rooms. Then it hit me.  I broke down in tears.  A heavy, sobbing, emotional cry that should have hit me the night before. We have our first Black President.  I could finally wrap my mind around that fact.  America had spoken and they chose to break the old stereotypes and voted in our new Black President.  I spent a good portion of the day crying.  What really sealed it for me was Sherri Sheppard on the View explaining how she felt when she looked at her son and finally said “no limitations”.  I was broken down to the break pads!  See, I felt the same things about my son.  No limitations.  Between missing my Dad and wishing he was here to witness this, and the fact that times had definitely changed and my son has UNLIMITED opportunities, I was a wreck.  You see, I was born exactly one year after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated (read my blog from April to see my comments).  The year I was born, they assassinated Robert Kennedy. I listened to stories from my Dad about segregation and the struggles his family had in the south.  It is crazy that nearly 40 years later, we have a Black President!  My Dad, uncles, great uncle and grandparents would not be here to witness this history, but the day is here.

I told my son that morning that forget about the bar being raised, that sucker had been catapulted.  We all know that as parents we’ve told our kids that they can be anything they want.  But for black parents, the presidency was not something we felt obliged to tell our kids they could aspire for.  Maybe our grandkids, but not our kids in our lifetime. Boy were we ever wrong! I explained to my son that any expectations I had set for him have now quadrupled. We have no more excuses. I could see my son stand a little prouder and a little taller and much more confident.  But it wasn’t arrogance. It was him accepting the fact that yes, he CAN do absolutely anything. I told him to follow PRESIDENT Obama’s lead of grace and dignity and go to school proud with head held high, but not bragging and acting the fool.  Barack Obama took everything they hurled at him and he handled it all with grace and decorum. *brushing off my shoulder*  That is the lead my son needed to follow should he run into any hateration at school.

As Black people, this is indeed a sweet victory for our people.  Just as if a woman had won, more specifically Hillary Clinton, this would have been a sweet victory for us as women.  But now we have a responsibility.  We got him elected.  But we cannot play the favors game. He is the president of our entire country, not just of Black people.  We cannot expect him to come into office on January 20th and wave a magic wand.  Yes, we will continue to have the same issues as we deal with today.  The economy needs healing.  This country needs healing. Our foreign relations need healing.  This is not an over night kind of thing.  It takes time. We cannot expect PRESIDENT Obama to work on “black issues”.  We are all in this together. Trust that people of all colors are watching.  My fear is that my people will start calling in favors or yelling and complaining in the first year if they don’t see immediate change, then start acting the fool.  We need to savor this victory, but by the same token remember he is still a politician.  He cannot bring about change alone and there is a real possibility that he will have to make some decisions that are not very popular.  But as PRESIDENT Obama said in his speech, we all need to work together.  He cannot do it all alone.  The bar has been raised my brothers and sisters. Black people have a responsibility to do better, be better, expect better and want better. Some of us need to look inside ourselves and heal us, and continue that healing to others.

Those of us who paid attention for the first time because race and gender was thrown into the dynamics need to continue showing interest.  America has jumped leaps and bounds, but there are still issues that need to be addressed.  We are talking about change and ushering in a new America.  Well let’s keep that momentum going. If you didn’t vote, you have no voice to complain in my opinion.  It’s always easy to stand on the sideline and make suggestions or talk smack. But for your family, community, yourself, stay involved and take action. Let’s become a country that we all can be proud of.  Let’s all do our part to keep pushing America to new heights.  Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin symbolized hope for many women (even though I think she was just a pawn of the McCain camp).  Hillary Clinton showed us that yes, a woman can run for president. And PRESIDENT Obama has shown that damn it, a Black Man CAN become President of the United States.

I will be watching.  I will be a bit more confident.  I will be doing my part to keep America moving in the right direction.  It is my hope that everyone else makes the same commitment.  I do not expect PRESIDENT Obama to be perfect.  I do not expect immediate results.  I am willing to be patient and do my part. My expectation is that he will lead us to the best of his abilities and continue his same even handedness while facing this tough job. I am making it my business to attend the inauguration by hook or by crook.  I want to be there to personally experience history. As a Black Woman, I stand a bit stronger and prouder. My confidence is on steroids because I now see, that yes, anything, anything is really possible.

PRESIDENT Obama, here’s to your success and I cannot wait to see where you lead our country next. God Bless You and the First Family. And hurry up and get those girls their puppy!  🙂

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham
*going to order my President That One, 08 t-shirt & bumper sticker*