Last night, as the poll results were coming in, my friend Chad and I were talking about the election of Barack Obama as our president. We were discussing how awesome it is that Obama pulled in Ohio. How resoundingly he took Pennsylvania. How his campaign inspired young people to actually get out and VOTE this year. We were talking about the organization of his campaign, their ground game, the passion voters felt about Obama and this election.
Then, someone on TV brought up the historical significance of him being the first African American President of the United States.
Chad and I slapped our foreheads. That's right! He's black! Through all our conversations, we hadn't even touched on this historical moment.
"That is SO generational" said my dad, after I recounted to him this conversation. "You have no memory of white only restaurants and the segregation of this country. That's a good thing, but it changes your perspective." He recounted stories of white only restaurants, and the white people who left when their black friends were told to leave.
Stories like these are all too common in our culture. So common, in fact, that for someone like me - a privileged, white American who was born in 1979, a story is what it has been relegated to. I am ashamed that this fact didn't strike me sooner in the evening. Goodness, I consider myself to be progressive, to embrace diversity and instill that in my child!
My dad is right - it is great that so many of my generation did not see race in this election. It is wonderful that we have no memory of the segregation that was so prevalent in our society for so long.
In this moment of victory, as we wash off the last, awful, 8 years, let us not forget the work is not over yet, and the history that was made as we elected President Obama.