Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008 - One of those Key Moments in Life

"Oh God, this is one of those key moments in life, when it's possible you can be genuinely cool -- and I'm just going to fail a hundred percent.” (from the movie Notting Hill)

I would really like to write something brilliant and momentous about Barack Obama's big win last night, but I also fear that whatever I write will be inadequate.

I could write about how all of Kenya is celebrating today, and will officially celebrate again tomorrow as November 6th has been declared a national holiday in honor of Obama. Kenya's President said in today's news, "This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success."

I could write about how Kristoffer and I stayed up most of the night (we snuck in about 4 ½ hours of sleep) and watched the election results as well as Obama's acceptance speech with our American neighbors across the street, who threw a "Kwaheri Bush!" party (Kwaheri = Goodbye, in Swahili).

I could write about the tears Kristoffer and I both shed when it was announced that Barack Obama won the election and when he addressed the country.

I could write about my memories of learning about the Civil War and watching "the Blue and the Gray" (an epic mini-series on the Civil War) in Mr. Heidenrich's 8th grade history class, thinking to my naive self that there would probably never be a non-white President in America.

Fast forward eleven years and I could write about being an American History teacher in NYC, teaching my diverse population of students about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, reading Huck Finn with them, trying desperately to convince them to stop using the "n word", and hearing their frustrations at feeling like political doors would never honestly be open to them.

I could write about how much I wish I was in my NYC classroom today.

I could write about the fact that regardless of for whom you voted, with what political party you are aligned, or what you think of Barack Obama as a person or politician, you must be made of stone if you are not incredibly moved by the fact that America elected a person of color to the highest office in the country for the first time.

Finally, I could write about being an expectant American mother, knowing that my American-Danish child will be born in the country of his/her President's father and will never quite understand that color was once an extreme barrier in achieving both the greatest and smallest successes imaginable.

But again…all of that seems so small compared to the magnitude of this moment in America and around the world. I am neither a die-hard liberal nor an extreme conservative, and I am not naive about the promises of political campaigns. Of all the things that I could write today, this is what I will write:

Barack Obama is not a perfect man or a perfect politician, and he will not be a perfect President. But…he has inspired and motivated more Americans to engage in our political process than ever before; he has redefined the vision and hope that many Americans have for our future; and he almost instantly regained the respect and support that nations around the world have for America. So regardless of how perfect he isn’t, he is our new President and it is only in the best interests of our country and the entire world to unite behind him.

I am very proud to be an American and I am hopeful that Obama will actually help bring the change for which my country voted yesterday.



rebecca said...

Well-put. I think, though, that change is not easy and will require the work of many people. It is not something that he will simply bring. I'm motivated right now. I'm having an "Ask not..." moment and hope that others will also.

Take care and enjoy the celebration!

Mirelis said...

Ms. Mueller! Your blog brought tears to my eyes. I can't even begin to explain what I left last night
(and still feel right now), so I'm not even going to attempt to do so now. But I can say that I am so happy to have had teachers like you who tried their hardest to let us know race was not a barrier, and that we should never give up on ourselves and try harder! I have never felt prouder of myself and my country!

Anonymous said...

Very nice writing and happy Thanksgiving!
Bobbi an Mike Stouffer Wausau Wisconsin