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January 9, 2009

Our new president

Five living presidents

Five living presidents

Seeing this picture made me think about the fact that I was intending to write a post following the election in November.  I wanted to wait a little while, let things simmer down (for me, mostly, because this election got really old to me a long time before November 5th!!!).  But it’s probably been long enough now for me to say the few things I wanted to say.

First off, I did not want Obama to be the next president.  I find some of his positions troubling to my very core.  I worry constantly about some of the directions he’ll take us in.  I guess deeply troubled is the best way to put it.

But there is one thing–one REALLY BIG thing–that excites me.  Even though I worried about Obama winning in the weeks and months (or was it years we were talking about this darn election?!) leading up to it, I worried as much about the possibility of him not winning because he’s Black.  In past years, I’ve read psychological and sociological theory related to voting behavior (I used to be a political junkie until…well, we won’t go into that here) and some of those theories would suggest that it would ultimately be difficult for many people to vote for a Black man, despite what they might say to pollsters before entering the voting booth (see social desirability bias, for example).

This was particularly on my mind this summer as almost 70% of our interviewees were Black Americans.  If anyone wonders whether racism still exists, you need look no further than our criminal justice system.  It is rampant with both institutional racism (e.g., harsher punishments for crack cocaine violations, a more commonly Black crime, than powder cocaine, a more commonly White crime) and racist attitudes (“you don’t want to interview ‘those people'”).  Not that our interviewees complained much about it; very few either subtly or overtly blamed their situation on racism.  But it is there, everywhere, and in some moments, it felt so thick I could cut it with a knife.

So I rejoice in this: a significant boundary has been crossed.  I believe it is psychically important for all Americans, but especially Black Americans, that the new first family looks like this:

obama-family

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4 Comments »

  1. Great comments!

    Comment by Godfather — January 9, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  2. This will be the most difficult time to take on the responsibilities of president certainly in my life time but perhaps even longer than that. I am always quite amazed that there are people who want to take on the challenge and that was before this Fall when we were on the tail end of the looooooooong campaign. Then Q4 turned into a much different picture as the economy began to crumble and national security and the situation in the Middle East was an even hotter issue, etc. which meant that those candidates got themselves into something they probably knew was always a possibility but became a reality.

    In the remaining days of the Bush administration, we are almost on hold, so it will be good when we have a new president and the ability to get at the immediate decisions that need to be made. It remains to be seen what impact Obama will have on the future but I hope that some sound decisions will be made that will impact our country in a positive way.

    Comment by Helen — January 9, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  3. I too am excited that we have a black president. I’m just not so sure Obama is the black president that I wanted. I am glad, however, that his candidacy caused many black people to get out and vote for the first time. Especially here in California, those extra votes made a huge difference in the passage of Prop 8. So if the passing of prop 8 means sacrificing the office of president to an extremist liberal, then I’ll take it!

    Comment by Stacy Clark — January 9, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  4. interesting. I’d have to say I loved every minute of the run up to the election. Much fun. But it will be interesting as you say to see how we go from here.

    Comment by Audrey — January 9, 2009 @ 10:29 pm


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