Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Swearing in of Barack Obama

BO's swearing in today in DC as the 44th President of the USA was, as has been said a thousand times, an 'historic' event. While it is almost a climax for blacks in America and elsewhere, its significance for other people of color, including myself, cannot be discounted. When he lay his hand on the Bible used by Lincoln, my eyes filled with tears of joy too. I had to call my septuagenarian father, to congratulate him, for it is his generation that has seen both sides of humanity----him and his contemporaries were either just about to be born or were young people when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa because of the color of his skin. 75 years, or even 100 years is not a very long time for things to have so changed that today the leader of the most advanced democracy in the world is a person of color. Indeed it is an absolutely fantastic achievement for our generation. To me, what is most heartening is the understanding that the electorate that voted BO to office is actually a whole body of people who are color blind. These are my colleagues in universities, my students, my husband's co-workers, the bank clerk, the delivery man, the postal employee, the sales agent at the rental office, etc. I don't know all these people's political leanings, and I don't have to know them. Because I know that a large electorate was color blind, I can safely assume that the default in America is color-blindness. And I think this readjusting of the 'default', to me, is perhaps a real turning point, worth remembering to recount to generations that will come after us.

No comments: