What an exciting, historical day Monday was! We, as a nation, witnessed something monumental. Regardless of your political affiliation, whether black, white, male, female, Catholic or Buddhist, seeing an African-American being sworn in as our president on a day set aside to remember and acknowledge the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Now that was one for the history books.
Four years ago, we as a nation saw the country’s first African-American President become inaugurated. We saw a minority group represented. That in itself was an amazing moment in our history. Gone were (and yes, I know not by all) the differences between two races. The election of an African-American man showed the world we had progressed. It showed the world we had moved on, that we were finally entering the modern world where ideas and vision spoke volumes. It showed the world that we were ready for minorities to make their way to the forefront of our society. For many minority youngsters, a world of opportunity was within their reach by one simple image of Barack Obama being sworn in to office. The traditional rules of the game had been changed, and now anyone – regardless of color or creed or religion or sex could grow up and become anything he or she wanted to be. Hell, they could become President of the United States of America if they wanted.
Move forward to present day. Four years later, that same man, a role model to so many of our countries youth, was again taking that same oath. To those same children who four years ago felt such hope, there was now tangible proof. Everything Dr. King has worked so tirelessly for; everything he had died for was a reality. On Monday it was there, ripe for the taking, for the entire world to see. We were all one nation, under God. At that moment, those immortal words of Dr. King came true: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin…”.
As Barack Obama stood in front of crowds in Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol, and was sworn in on a day that already is of such significance and importance to not only our African-American community members, but also women and minorities everywhere, I felt an overwhelming calm. Regardless of whether people wanted him to win, or whether people believe him to be the right man for the job, for one simple, single moment, it didn’t matter. What mattered was the importance of the moment. How can anyone as an American not feel pride in watching that take place? An African-American taking the highest oath of political office in this country on a day set aside for us to remember the deeds and the life of a genuinely great African-American man? It made me proud. It made me proud to be a part of that history.
Personally, I needed that moment of feeling proud. I’ve been disgusted and saddened lately by what my generation will be remembered for in the future. What will the history books say? Well, probably a whole lot of that text will talk about the following: wars that lasted too long, mass shootings at an alarming rate, a downward shift in how people treat each other, an America turned lazy, a society looking out for themselves, a country with increasing suicide rates, a nation of abusers whether food or drugs or drink or people. Essentially, the history books will, at least in my opinion, not show us in the most glowing of lights. But, there is now one thing we’ll be known for. We’ll be highlighted and commended and honored for being a generation who saw the first minority President. We’ll be praised for beginning a change in our viewpoint, where men, women, black, or white, we were deserving of a bright future.
I know we’ll never have the racial harmony some of us so desperately long for. I know people who are different won’t always be accepted. I’m not naïve, and I know that some things will always be in existence, regardless of how much I wish they weren’t. Racism, sexism, hatred, abuse…I could go on and on and we’d be here all day.
But what Monday did, at least in my eyes is this. It gave me hope. It gave me the hope that although bias and judgment will always exist, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light lets me see clearly that it will get to point where that judgment and bias is unacceptable. It lets me see that one day, ANYONE can and will achieve great things. We’ve already seem a glimmer of that light. I just hope that I’m right and that no one turns it off.
Charlotte Guedry is Editor-in-Chief of The Creole – Ascension Parish Online Newspaper. She is happy to receive comments and can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.