I know it has been two months since Barack Obama was officially elected, but it is still hard for me to wrap my head around. I remember hoping to see a black president in my lifetime and even coming close to believing I actually would. Then I would remember that end of slavery was only about 150 years old, and that the "separate but equal" doctrine had ended during my parents lifetime, and that the L.A Riots had occurred during my lifetime, and that race still seemed to be a touchy issue that no one wanted to talk about, and I would re-think its plausibility. Pre-Barack Obama, I was even on record as believing that America would sooner elect a woman or a Latino-American before an African-American.
Looks like I was way off.
Now here we stand. Tomorrow is a another stop (hopefully one of the last necessary stops) on a Civil Rights train that started 50 years ago. And isn't it only fitting that today, the day before this monumental stop, is Martin Luther King Jr. day.
If you think that we are throwing a big party down here on Earth with our transcontinental train trips, Bruce Springsteen concerts and Hip Hop Inaugural balls, you had better think again. This has to be nothing compared to the party that is going on up in Heaven, Nirvana, Valhalla, The Other Side or wherever it is good men and women go when they die. For surely, Martin Luther King Jr. is the most popular guy on any extraterrestrial plane right now.
"Hey Marty," they are probably saying, "check out your progeny down there. Look how much he means to them."
Then M.L.K probably readjusts his party hat, wipes the punch off of his mustache with a napkin and laughs contentedly.
I can't help but think it is a little cosmic wink that Barack Obama's inauguration comes 24 hours after the day we chose to honor a man who dedicated his life to fairness, equality and racial harmony. Present circumstances being what they are, we can today safely think on the past and be remorseful for the anonymous faces in America's history he were held down by racism and were led to believe they were second class.
Then tomorrow we can just freaking party.
I like the idea of a new American racial landscape beginning as a three day process. Today we remember the past. Tomorrow we party like it's 1999 (the actual 1999 partying was very disappointing, we need a do-over) and on Wednesday we do what all Americans always do: get the hell back to work.
As a college student, my next three days skew a little differently (mostly work, work, work) but I will do my best to reflect on the past, live in the present and prepare for the future. Barack Obama has done nothing yet and could end up being a royal disappointment, but he has done well up to this point and deserves our respect. In any case, today and tomorrow are not his days. They belong to Marty L. King and all the good folks who gave themselves for this day to come.
I would like to leave you with a quote from esteemed scholar Tracy Morgan:
"Welcome to post-racial America. I am the face of post-racial America. Deal with it, Cate Blanchette!"
M.L.K himself couldn't have said it any better.
Deal with THAT, Cate Blanchette.