A thought emerges…but it too is silenced.
I’m not sure how to respond to this – this new America. The possibility-turned-reality of a person of color – a black man – being elected to the presidency of the United States is not one for which I’ve been prepared. I can still envision that little girl with the afro-puff wearing the pink shirt that said, “Future President.” The little girl who, when asked what she’d be when she grew up, responded without hesitation: “A teacher, a scientist, a doctor, and president.” But then she learned that while teacher, scientist, and doctor might be within her grasp if she studied hard and went to college, president was never, ever, a dream to be reached. Not by little girls and especially not by little brown-skinned girls or boys.
And now, some thirty-odd years later, that little brown girl has exceeded her dreams. And still she wonders “what might have been” had the specter of race not cast a net over her dreams. A political career? Unlikely. Not really her cup of tea. But what other possibilities might have existed in a boundless imagination? More importantly, with the ceiling so visibly shattered, how does she raise that little brown boy, whose laughter rings throughout the house as she writes, so that he hears within his head, “Yes, I can,” and not “No, they won’t let me”?
Yesterday, a brown-skinned man was elected president. Today my sister-in-law and her family woke up to find that their home, as well as those of other African Americans in their community, had been paint-balled.
Yesterday a multicultural coalition voted in record numbers to honor the ancestors on whose shoulders we stand. Today an African American family in Birmingham tries to clean up the $7,000 in property damage and untold amount in environmental damage done by those who rock-salted their lawn.
The hope abounds. And so do the hate crimes. And downstairs is a little brown boy who must be prepared for both of those realities.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.