There is a parishioner of St. Paul’s and a friend (she likes to get soaked during Eastertide when we asperge) who commented on this photograph. Her comments, wrapped up in her life as a black woman who has had (and continues to have) all kinds of connections and experiences, is just meaningful to me. She granted me permission to include her comments, here.
Recent photo of a little boy visiting the White House. He wanted to feel Obama’s hair because he wanted to know if the President’s hair felt just like his. Obama obliged. Priceless.
Ya know I have seen that picture several times and did not understand the context. I am reminded of the time my knucklehead nephew (born in April 1980) was about 8, and (even though I am a Republican) I was astonished that he was very supportive of the President (Ronald Reagan) Then it hit me. That was the only President he knew in his lifetime.
When I was a small child (I was quite precocious, as you can imagine), I amused a neighbor lady with our “political discussions” about the results of the Korean Conflict (we predicted future involvement in the Asian theatre and Vietnam specfically), Brown v. Board of Ed, the emerging Civil Rights movement, and whether the President (Eisenhower) was a Negro (his mother was eventually proven to be a “quadroon”). Ah, those were heady times for this little colored child (already a Life Member of the NAACP).
My Father ran for Congress in the 50’s (as a Democrat; that is another story for another day), and remember his campaign literature: “Elect Brooklyn’s First NEGRO Representative!” He ran against Mrs. Edna Kelly, and when she won, she became the first female representative. And even though Daddy did not win, we got a new puppy after the campaign, just as he promised.
Fast forward. Of course, I loved watching and listening to eager young white young men campaigning for Obama last year. They would approach me, and ask if I was registered to vote, and when I would say I was a registered Republican, they did not skip a beat: “….but you are going to vote for Obama, right?”
And the arguments in bars! Saint Patrick’s Day 2008 at one of the more infamous Irish bars in Brooklyn, when all of the “youngsters” loudly proclaimed that they were voting for Obama, even if he was “Hawaiian”. And many of the “village elders” at the end of the bar muttered that they never thought that they would see the day that they would vote for that “colored lad”.
Because at the end of they day, folks saw that he WAS and IS the right choice.
I choose to focus on what a wonderful time we can look forward to for this generation (and the next) for most of the coming decade!
There are and have been experiences in my life that lend themselves to a degree of understanding of what others go through in this life, in this culture, in this time and age. Yet, there are things I will never understand intuitively, inwardly, intimately. In such cases, silence and humility remain the best course to follow. I hope I have the wisdom to know.