I very deliberately try not to comment on specific political personalities, policies or partisan debates because most of the time, my voice isn’t necessarily that divergent from one group or another.  Why egg on a fight?  In this case, however, I feel like I have something different to say.

First I read this article in the Washington Post.  http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2008/11/obamas_impossible_high_expecta.html?hpid=topnews

Now, put aside the rhetoric on “what kind of paper” the Post is and take the article at face value.  After listening to many of my peers talk, I feel this article reflects a lot of the feelings his voters in the DC Metro area have.  I worry about it – greatly – because a pedestal that high is a long way to fall.

Asking President-elect Obama to represent the healing of massive racial issues in the country is like asking Jesus (whether you call him prophet or Son of God) to represent the healing of two warring nations that dated back to two women having sons by the same man and one of them not inheriting.  (Oversimplified for the sake of brevity – forgive me please.)  Pick up a paper, even that argument is still on-going.

The responsibility of healing the racial divides in this country belong solely to the citizenship of this country.  Regardless of race, social status or geographic location, we should all be working to teach our youth that everyone is equal and forgiving grudges of past hurts. 

It’s interesting that many people believe the “South” holds the deed to racism in the United States.  I’ve been to almost every state in the union save Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, Alaska and Arizona.   I’ve even been to Puerto Rico!  I say this to tell you that as a minority visiting the remaining 39 states, racism and ignorance are not limited to states south of the Mason Dixon line. 

The Midwest was one of the first places where I’ve met people who have never met anyone of color in person until attending college.  Where their only impressions of minorities were based on urban center news piped in from places such as Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, D.C. or Miami and little of it was good.  Ideas of how minorities act were based on television shows ranging from the Simpsons to Law and Order.  The history taught in the Midwest is also different.  When I attended schools in New Orleans, Biloxi, D.C. or overseas in DoD schools, a certain amount of time and emphasis was given to the civil history of this country.  In the DoD schools, this was even expanded to include Asian, Hispanic and European immigrant civil issues in the country. 

Not so in Omaha, strangely, though I learned more about Native American history and agriculture in my time there but there was an optimistic glossing over of the severe racial disharmony the American history left behind as it occurred.  I’m not talking just black and white here, but the Asian and Hispanic communities in this nation have had their own severe injustices to overcome.  Many more recently than slavery, though for a lesser time frame – thankfully.  Things have grown so divided in places that even within an ethnic group, there are severe divides.  From labelling arguments – Are you really from Africa?  The islands?  Some other place where having a tan is common?  Hispanic?  Colombian, Cuban, Mexican – is there a difference?  Chinese, Laotian, Japanese or Korean? to purity arguments – Are you mixed?  You’re not Black / White / Asian / Whatever enough for one group or another.    The issue has grown beyond the bounds of simple race / ethnicity divides.

One of the beauties of the American dream is that it doesn’t matter where your from, where your parents are from or grandparents for that matter.   What we need to do is work from the home to school to the workplace to teach color blindness.  Want to judge someone based on common sense, education or social mores?   Choose to associate certain behaviors based on factual evidence?  Give the benefit of the doubt across the board and allow yourself to be proven right or wrong about a person, group or idea based upon their actual actions?

Bold ideas for this country.  President-elect Obama is trying to lead that direction, but he can only do his part as an American citizen – the rest is up to us.  We have the chance to show the world that people of various nations, religion, beliefs and socio-ethnic patterns can coexist in equal harmony with grace, forgiveness and a common work ethic.

If you want to vote for change, that’s the one I think we should start with.