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Tuesday

After the election, there was the truth...


Obama’s landslide victory has made him America’s president in a way that George W. Bush never was. Obama is not merely the poor people’s president. He is not merely the African American people’s president. He is not merely the youth’s president. He is America’s president. And his victory has already begun to heal this country.

I live in Pittsburgh--a city that loves football, but that is also known to be close minded, and intolerant to change. My conversations with people after the election have had various tones ranging from disbelief to euphoria. However, the most profound conversation was between me and an older Black woman who’s worked at my company for 40 years.

For her, Obama’s victory signified healing. While in high school a teacher planned to deny her an “A” because, “I don’t give niggers A’s”. Instead of capitulating, my colleague defied the teacher and said, “You’re going to give me what I deserve.” Because of that, and similar experiences, she began working at our company with a chip on her shoulder and a fair amount of racial hostility. Early in her career, she told a co-worker that she “didn’t like white people because that was how she had been raised. And, her experiences had taught her to be distrustful of them.”

I can only imagine the courage that it has taken for her to confront those hurdles over the years. I can also only imagine the courage it took for her to share her story with me. I have worked here for four years. However, until now, she and I have never had a personal conversation, even after the death of her mother and a significant other. However, because of Obama’s victory, she felt compelled to share her story with me. I believe that she feels a greater sense of connectedness with me and she feels empowered.

Until Obama won, she believed very strongly in the inherent unfairness of America. She believed that there were two tracks, a Black one and a White one. And while she had relationships with some "nice White people" she did not believe that Obama's victory was possible--an overwhelming victory for an African-American candidate. Now, she believes that she has a president. That has made all of the difference.
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