My mother and I spoke after Barack's acceptance speech, and she told me that she remembered when Martin Luther King, Jr. made his historic speech. She recalled racial segregation in Houston forty-five years ago: second-hand books from the all-white school, how blacks weren't allowed to attend the cinema, or the fact that blacks were only allowed entrance to an amusement park on Juneteenth, the day word arrived that slaves were free.
We didn't watch the speech together, but somewhere out there in the ether, our souls danced and cried together listening to the message of change during Barack's speech.
It was the first time I was emotional listening to a politician. It was unexpected. I thought about my recently deceased grandmother who would've been ninety-one this past February, and what the speech might have meant to her as she would've listened from the corner of her living room sofa in Houston.
I thought about my transfer and adjustment to an integrated high school in then swanky River Oaks. Things were different back then, and one of the reasons I relocated to the East Coast was because I wanted to escape the backwards mentality in Houston. Was there any truth to the stories of yore about The North being a mecca for African Americans? Would life on the East Coast be better for me?
My immediate world didn't change overnight, and nor has it changed drastically in the years I've been here. Racism is subtle and wicked in New York City. There are so many different ethnicities that live in clusters in the five boroughs. Police are still brutalizing and murdering African Americans, minus water hoses and attack dogs.
I cried because of the possibility of my younger brothers and cousins looking to Barack as an example of who and what they could become if they set goals. I released some fear and disbelief in the streaming tears during the speech. In the coming days and weeks, I look forward to breaking down more fears and marking this page in my personal history.
Yes we can!