Thursday, November 6, 2008
On the Unexplainable
I wish I could share this feeling with everyone. This blissful, giddily-surprised, calming, uplifting feeling. Hundreds of pounds of baggage have been lifted from my shoulders, and I get to raise my head from the burden and just look UP again. It's like I've been knocked back to childhood - looking at the world through new, shining eyes.
The world changed yesterday. It did.
Everything I did was new. As I drove to work - 'I'm driving to work, and we just elected a black president.' I ate breakfast - 'I'm eating and we just elected a black president.' Talking to my students - 'I'm teaching math after we elected a black president.' EVERYTHING is NEW.
Because I never truly believed this day would come. And so EARLY in my lifetime. So monumental that I even had flashes of - maybe I could run for PRESIDENT!!! - like a giddy kid. Because that had never been a true possibility before. And maybe I will run for President. Because this country just showed me that it could happen.
And as I walked around with my giddy smile, I wanted to find every single person of color in this city and just look at their eyes. To share this glow and emotion. To have a wordless exchange of pure joy on such a scale that I'll never feel again - and SHARE THE EXACT SAME FEELING with another soul (or more).
I tried to share it with white folks. I did. But it didn't work. Because this amazing moment is for us - people of color. I don't minimize the part of all the white voters (who I suddenly have so much more faith in than I ever had before), but white folks just can't FEEL this. As I told my co-workers, "Today is the only time that it kind of sucks to be white in this country - because you can't feel THIS" (as I tapped my chest). And in spite of arguments to the contrary, it's absolutely true. Because, without all the weight and baggage of race in this country, white folks can't fully feel the power of having a load of that knocked off.
And I kind of feel bad about that. Because I really DO want to share it with everybody. My teaching assistant came in, and as I explained to her how I had no intention of teaching anything real because of the moment, she said, "Cool, I totally understand."
And then when I started talking about how I hadn't been able to sleep and how shaky I was, etc. she asked, "Why?" And I wanted to scream. "WHY!!??? We just elected a f-ing BLACK PRESIDENT, that's why!!!! Suddenly this country has invited all people of color to be a real part of this nation!!! There's a guy that's moving to the Oval Office that actually gives a sh-- and KNOWS what it's like to be another color!!!!! Are you kidding me!??"
And it's simultaneously crazy and sad and kind of gratifying that not everyone gets to touch this feeling. It's like all my payments to the "being a person of color in America fund" got reimbursed in one fell swoop, and I honestly think I'll be a little high for the next month or so. Maybe longer.
And it felt even BETTER to share this with my one co-worker of color. We just looked at each other and KNEW that we were in the same place. We both had raw, post-teary eyes. We both couldn't stop smiling. We both had shaky hands. And we both were looking at the world from a brand-new set of eyes. And we got to share it.
And from that, I suddenly feel this familial, happy bond with ALL people of color (even worldwide, really). We're all getting to share in something so wonderful - and it's just for us. Not to say white folks aren't happy, and don't understand it to some level, but this FEELING - it's just ours. It's a little bit of a refund for all that we've had to shoulder.
And the smiles I get when I think about those who lived through and participated in the Civil Rights movements of the 60s? There's must be a level of bliss that can be matched by nothing less than Heaven, itself (and even THAT might not match it).
So I thank you, America. All of you - no matter who you voted for. Because, in the end, you gave me (and so many others) a gift that defies explanation and comprehension. I really don't think anything else earthly can match this, and I say that with no exaggeration.
Thank you for this new world. I promise I won't ever take it for granted.