Token Black Girl

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day




I'm a black woman with a blog, you can expect that I might have something to say about the days events. Before I can even begin to speak on the Inauguration I have to rewind to Election Day. On November 4th I waited to vote until the very last minute of the last day, unlike most members of my family. I got off of jury duty at 4pm and raced to my polling place about 20 minutes drive away. My sister in law was in a local hospital in labor, preparing to birth her first child into the world. I break every known speeding law in the State of California to make it to the polls and then the hospital. There is no way I would miss my younger brother, my only male sibling, becoming a father.



When I arrived to my polling place, a small storefront church building, I was surprised to see that there were no lines so late in the evening. I had been held up at court far past my scheduled departure time as well as by traffic on the 91 freeway, and there were still practically no lines. Was it luck, maybe divine intervention? I had prayed the entire way that I'd have time to vote and make my family obligations; however at the moment I didn't have time to consider just how lucky I was. I hopped back into my car and headed for the hospital where my entire family was waiting. I sat in the waiting room with my nieces, nephew, cousin, sisters, grandmother, and in-laws. Only partially related to the subject matter, we are a multi-racial family now. My brother's wife and family are Mexican but our familial love is untainted. We all sat together and watched the election coverage on the news in that cramped room, both anticipating a birth that would unite our families and an election that would unite our country.

The room was ablaze with anxiety, to say the least. All of our chests were tight with anticipation and our hearts ready to beat out of our chests. There was a collective nervousness amongst all of us. Shortly after 8pm, my sister in law runs into the room and announces "The baby is here!". As is expected, the room explodes in cheers, and everyone jumping to their feet. My grandmother and I remained where we sat knowing we all would not be allowed back to the delivery room. That is when it happened. Over the television it was announced that Barack Obama had won the election. A black man had been elected the President of the United States of America. My grandmother fell silent and placed her hand to her chest.

This is a woman who has lived through many of the turmoil’s that African American people have endured. Her family being from Texas are no strangers to the shadows of our nations past. This woman had traced our family ancestry all the way back to slavery, and to my surprise, there really weren't that many generations that separated us. The look on my grandmother’s face was priceless, it was beautiful, it held more meaning to me than the entire election process had. That look held disbelief, shock, relief, uncertainty, pride, and a silent something that I am certain I will never hold the depth to understand. Sitting next to my grandmother, born early in the 1930's, during that announcement was one of the single most spectacular, holy, beautiful moments in my short life. Holding my new born nephew who came into this earth just as it changed forever. Looking in the eyes of this black man, Hispanic man, whatever man he chooses to be meant something to me. It meant that he may never know what it means to be told he can't because of your culture or you won't due to his race. The whole world opened up for him the day he was born in a way it never had for any other member of our family in all of our generations.

With all of that said, today I watched as President Barack Obama was sworn in. I laughed as the justice of the piece rushed over and muddled up his swearing in, obviously nervous. I applauded as he said those famous words, coined by our first President George Washington "So help me God", and as he gave his speech rallying the nation, encouraging our people, and acknowledging the entire world, I cried. I thought of being called a nigger as child and cried. I remembered only learning about slavery for black history month and cried. I recalled being called on as the token black student in college by my professors whenever black written or based literature or topics were discussed and I cried.

Today, after all this time am I finally an equal? Can I finally start writing my full, extremely black name on my resume as opposed to just my first initial and last name? Will my writing no longer be categorized as ethnic and put off in a separate category? I cried. I cried as I wrote this. I cried for my mother, and grandmother, and great grandparents who have run out of tears. I cried for all of those who sacrificed and died to see that one day this day would be possible. I cried for the first people to stand against the injustice of slavery, segregation, separation, and prejudiced. I cried today, and it has never felt so good.

No comments:

Post a Comment