08 November 2008

President-Elect Obama. What It Means.

I just like saying that. I still can't say it without my throat closing up a little bit. Yes, We Did, and all that. I have so much to say about this historic event, yet I can't seem to write anything of import.

It's too big, too much. I can't make it fit into words. And I kind of don't want to. Maybe later, but right now, the thought of trying to express what this means to me, to my children, let alone the country, Black America, the world ... I can't fit it into words yet. Not really. I mean, I can write this post about how wonderful it is, where I was that night, how I felt, but the bigger picture? How to express that?

When it was announced, all the stress and adrenaline I'd apparently been holding for months just fell away. Like I'd imagine a body would feel after running a marathon. I could not get a hold of myself. It was too big to fit into feelings, let alone words. It hasn't completely sunk in. I still find myself on the verge of tears, just hearing bits of the speech on the radio, or looking at pictures online, the faces of people's reactions -- Jesse Jackson, ohmygod, did you all see Jesse? What this must mean to him and Andrew Young and all the people who were there during the civil rights years ... I can't even think about that without my heart feeling off beat.

I was on the phone with the Bohemian when it was announced. The networks were counting down the seconds to release the Western states' numbers. We were wondering how long we'd have to wait, contemplating (cynically) whether there would be vote tampering, whether there would be problems, when all of a sudden my phone erupted in my ear, exploded, as the students at Howard University reacted to the news that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States. At that moment it flashed across the TV: Barack Obama, projected winner. It happened so fast -- it took a few moments for either of us to realize it was real.

Hearing those Howard students, even just over the phone, had me laughing and crying at once. I will never forget that. The Bohemian said people were pouring outside, literally dancing in the streets.

Then Teen Demon called, Teen Demon who is not given to exuberant displays of emotion, called laughing and shouting and so happy, caught up in a student mob that was parading around campus and through surrounding neighborhoods. Later she sent me a video of students breaking into an impromptu version of the Star Spangled Banner. As a former soldier, that song still gets to me anyway, but to hear young people spontaneously singing on their own, reacting to the election of the first African American president; that means a lot more than hearing it at a sporting event or a parade. It meant something.

Male Offspring was at an election party at the high school with the debate team, and when I picked him up, he was practically bouncing out of his shoes, said he needed something to focus him (of course, he was referring to driving us home) because he was so hyped up from the excitement. Hugging him, I could only think about President-Elect Obama's mother and grandmother, how proud they would be, and how their son/grandson has made the future a different place for my son.

Earlier that night, I had been a little sad that we'd all be in separate places, but then I thought about how this election was so much about the young people this time, and I wanted my kids to have that memory, to experience this in crowds of young people who helped make this happen and who are our future. What I heard in my daughters' voices that night, what I saw in my son's face, means more than I can explain. It is too big to fit into words.

You go, President-Elect Obama. I'm proud and honored to have you as my president.


  1. It's too bad he can't take office RIGHT NOW! :)

  2. Star-spangled Banner? At cool universities we do Lift Every Voice and Sing. I think it would be hilarious if Obama did that at the inaugaration.

    Also, it's looking more sure that Howard's choir is going to sing at the inaugaration. Don't all fly out here at once cause it might not happen, but still.

  3. Yeah, okay it can't be put into words, but your attempts at doing just that do get to part of the truth of that night. It must be amazing to see the world, and world history, reflected back at you from the faces of your children. And it's wonderful that you let your kids spend that very special night in their own way. They may remember it for the rest of their lives!

  4. So good to be back here, reading your perspective. I was also blown away by the news (so early) that Obama had sealed the deal! The stress of the election, of listening to the nastiness from the dark side, of watching ignorance and hate proudly on display, it was too much. The tears of joy and relief flowed instantly as I watched Ohio fall blue. An evening I will remember for the rest of my life.

  5. I'm so glad to see you guys! I've missed you all.

    RG: Yes! Actually though, I'm glad he's got some time to plan and get his team together, get everything in place to GO. As long as the Bushies don't do something even more stupid than what's already been done.

    WM: Yeah yeah, I know you all roll your eyes at me still tearing up over the anthem. Alpha Company drilled that into me but good. I was already thinking that night about the choir singing, and flying out there, but I heard the NEXT MORNING already about how prices are going through the roof for the inauguration. >:-p Greedy bastards.

    Pat: What really knocks me over is that my feelings about this can barely be contained, yet I know that feeling is only a fraction of what it must mean to so many others in this country.

    Tater: yes, yes, yes. It was like all the tension drained out. I really felt exhausted afterward. And as a former Ohio girl, seeing Ohio flip blue, omg, I can't tell you the Shock & Awe I felt from that!

  6. So much of history can only be appreciated in retrospect.
    Sometimes,generations must pass before
    we can say,'That was a defining moment'.
    THIS was instantly recognizable as such a moment everywhere,and to everyone all at once!..
    I don't know if I'll ever be able to recall election night again,without tearing up over the joy.

  7. Great post...you made me all emotional again...just reading it. It is such a great time for everyone.

  8. I was by myself on Election Night but I didn't feel alone. Amazing!

    (Nice seeing you again!)

  9. Your words expressed your emotions beautifully. It is good to have you back. A new day has dawned

  10. Sling: Yes, this was a huge moment. One of the really big ones. It won't solve things overnight, but it's one hell of a giant step.

    Sageweb: It FELT like a new day the next morning -- here in the PNW, it was a beautiful sunny fall day, the only day it hasn't rained in a while. Well, as we can see from Prop 8 in your neck of the woods, we've still got a ways to go, but damn is this a big step.

    Allan: Me too, by myself on election night, but no, I didn't feel alone at all. I was kind of glad it turned out that way.

    Mom: Yes, a new day. A long time coming, but a new day.


I've got a fever ...