Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Good morning, new America.

"Is there too much hope?' A journalism student asked the woman next to me at the Obama headquarters celebration last night.

There is, of course, never too much hope.

Now, the question, as Obama himself as asked is, "What do we do with it?"

More than anything, as I was standing in the cheering crowd last night, I felt like all the battles that I and others had fought over the past several decades had piled up to reach this tipping point--this visible African-American face, this multiracial global man who symbolizes our hope for a new America and a new world. Memories came flooding back to me--my father standing up to the white city council in the San Fernando Valley over integration and civil rights, the tense and shattering day Martin Luther King was shot and how the huge crowd of us, black and white junior high school students, marched to downtown Berkeley, the battles for women's rights in the 70's, the organizing against Anita Bryant in the Castro, the chaotic and cathartic times in Argentina and Bolivia, it all filled my bones as I was watching Obama speak and made me feel, yes, all of us who have fought those battles have helped make this change happen.

Of course, he will prove himself not just a symbol, but a human being. He will make mistakes. He will disappoint us. And we of this celebrity-driven country will have to learn that we are still the ones, ultimately, that need to make the change continue to happen.

But yesterday, as I was looking at kids here in Oakland who are four, five, six years old, I was thinking: they ARE growing up in a country different than the one I grew up in.

In the polling place, a group of light-skinned black kids were sitting on chairs talking while the rest of us voted. "Who would you vote for if you could vote?" said one. "Well I'd vote for Obama of course," said the other. "Why?" said the first. "'Cuz he's younger." said the second.