Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids In America

Although the song isn't lyrically appropriate, overall, especially since I think it actually pokes a little gentle fun at The Colonies and those of us who live here, sometime back in March or April, I decided that a refrain from Kim Wilde's "Kids In America" would be the perfect theme for Barack Obama's presidential campaign:

New York to east California
There's a new wave comin', I warn ya
We're the kids in America
We're the kids in America

In case you haven't heard, last night Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. There are a lot of things I could say about this fact, but I'd be writing all night, and I have a show at Berkeley Rep to get to this evening. So I'll just offer a few tidbits.

First of all, it's not something I spent a lot of time thinking about, but if you'd asked me at any time prior to this year if I thought an African American would be elected president, my answer would have been, "One day, to be certain, but not in my lifetime." I'm 38 years old; born after the bulk of the civil rights movement and raised by a Caucasian father and African American mother in an environment where I never thought there was anything unusual about people of different races loving each other, as opposed to hating each other. But obviously I'm aware of racism because, despite my upbringing, I still never thought I'd see this day.

I've never been happier to be proven wrong. Not only has an African American been elected president, but a brilliant, well educated African American who, by all appearances, has the vision to be an excellent leader. Thank you for that, Mr. President Elect. (Plus, I'll share a little secret: I'm thrilled that Obama is bracial, like me. Yay!)

I went to sleep Monday night feeling like a child on Christmas Eve. I bounded out of bed in the morning and was at my polling place ready to vote at 7:05 a.m. So were the 30 other people in line ahead of me, and the many others who arrived during the hour it took me to complete my civic duty. Throughout the day I became so nervous about the outcome of the election that I felt nauseous. I finally let myself breathe at about 6 p.m. Pacific Time when it was estimated that Obama had won Ohio. Even though we knew what was going to happen by the time the polls closed in California two hours later, it was still an incredible thrill to see the announcement on CNN that Obama had been elected. I was at a party with Denise and Paul at the time, and we all let out a serious cheer and toasted the moment with glasses of Veuve Clicquot.

I called my friend Chris a few minutes later, and he was crying so hard, he couldn't speak.

After the speeches, Paul, Denise and I did a little party hopping and found ourselves in San Francisco's Union Square at about 11:00. The energy was electric, people were jubilant, and it looked like there had been a street party earlier (and by all accounts, I think there had been). It seemed that people of all races and ages were out, revelling in Obama's victory and the pride of being kids in America.

I'm generally cynical about politicians, and it remains to be seen if Obama can keep all the promises he's made on the campaign trail. I tend to doubt he'll be able to, but for now, it feels really wonderful to hope.

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