A good friend of mine agreed to let me post her essay she wrote in reflection to yesterday.


You know history is being made when strangers, who normally keep a certain distance with one another, allow themselves to be vulnerable and intimate in a moment of greatness. This is what I saw last night on the streets and in the stores as cheering and shouting followed Obama's landslide victory. Strangers hugged one another, and strangers cried together as President Elect Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech at Grant Park last night. I am sad to say that as I have really grown up in the last 7 years, America has disappointed me, disenchanted me, and gave me little to believe in for my future. I secretly still wanted to find hope in my country, but didn't dare believe it could really exist beyond what we know now. For the first time in life, I was proud to be an American last night, and am proud to be an American when I woke up this morning, because I see the promise of a new America that I finally want to be a part of.

I grew up in an almost entirely middle-upper middle class, conservative, Caucasian community. But my heroes were never those who looked like me, but rather those who looked the exact opposite of me.

In grade school, my hero was Harriet Tubman. I read and reread any book my elementary school library had about her, which wasn't much, and would pretend that I was along side of her guiding slaves to freedom. Slavery infuriated me, and was the first thing that I can remember really feeling passionately about in my childhood. My greatest desire as a 3rd grader was to be black skinned like my hero, and like my one, black friend (who was adopted) that I was in gymnastics with. I even went so far one day, as to find a mud puddle and slather mud on every inch of skin I could see so that I could be black too. When my older brother found me like this I exclaimed, innocent and delighted, "Look Phil!!!! I'm black!!!!!" Although this was an inconvenience to him since he was babysitting me. He made me stand in front of the house while he sprayed me down with the garden hose before our mom got home and found me covered head to toe in mud.

Later, in my early teens, I had pictures of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in my room. I had no reason to feel connected to these individuals, no one around me had any significant interest in them beyond their place in history, but they meant something to me beyond history for a reason I couldn't explain.

Later as an adult, I spent 11 months in humanitarian service living in an inner city, low income black community (ironically the very one that Malcom X was born in). I talked to kids, women, men, and grandparents every day on the street, in their homes, and at their jobs. I asked them about their life, what made them happy, what they wanted for their families, and found out what they felt about the world, themselves, and others. In that time, I became intimately acquainted with a culture that I could only read about and watch from the outside before then. The people I associated with there have left a mark on my life. I experienced both love from the community, and hate from the community. I lived as a racial minority for the second time in my life (the first being in China) and felt the strain, anxiety, and insecurity that comes from being in that position. But I also felt the love when someone reaches across the barrier and extends unbiased friendship to you because of who you are as an individual, and not because of the color of your skin.

I got an up close look at poverty, and saw the complexities of it. If you are white and you are privileged (meaning you grew up with no thought to acquiring food, clothing, housing, education, or a job because they were right there in front of you) which most of you that I am associated with are, then don't ever let me hear from your mouth your diagnosis of how poor people are lazy people, and how you are successful because of your sheer hard work and determination. You are successful because you were given the foundation of success; don't discredit your parents, teachers, and community for making you who you are. Do not be so ignorant to label a social problem you know nothing about because you have been living your cush, conservative, white, middle class life with little effort to understanding or experiencing first hand the poverty of American ghettos.

As we all know, life is not fair, and we are not born into fair or equal circumstances; do not tell yourself the lie or repeat it out loud that equal opportunity exists in America if you just want it bad enough and work hard enough. I know plenty that want it bad and work hard, but spend all that hard work just to acquire the basics of life for themselves, their siblings, and their children, and yet still come up wanting. Only if you truly started with nothing, do you have any right to talk about hard work being your key to success. But if you had a consistent meal every day of your childhood, you have no right to gripe about your possible precious $250,000 a year wealth being spread around to the" dregs of society" that are only "manipulating" the system you yourself were lucky enough to never have to rely on. I am not naive enough to think that there aren't some who do manipulate the system, there certainly are and I know plenty, but it is worth it if it helps the ones that need help because they have a desire to make something of themselves one day. Keep in mind that when making assumptions and opinions about the economy and our society, make opinions based on what you would think and feel if you had been born into less fortunate circumstances and were in need of help. Act, think, and form your opinions as though you were the poorest of the poor, and see if you feel differently from how you do now, see if you strive harder to find the definition of fair.

It is a temptation to want to preserve your personal comforts that you have now and to hold onto your perception of reality, but the times are changing. There is no more room in America for people who think this way. Everything is not about YOU, and therefore do not expect public policies and government to always accommodate your personal agenda, your social class, your race, your financial standing, and your religious ideals. We are America because we are made up of differences, and still have found a way to be united. Do as our President Elect Obama does, and do not try to point to your church teachings as simply the answer to everyone's problems and moral dilemmas, you must challenge yourself enough to find reasons and solutions that still encompasses those whose religious beliefs are different from yours, or to those who have no religious belief at all. Although America was founded on religious freedom, we still believe that someone can choose no religion. And if we don't, then we are only more like the communists we despise, but in reverse-demanding that Americans believe in God or else. We can find common ground, while still retaining our personal beliefs and ideals; we do not have to be threatened by differences, we do not have to be fearful of where "tolerance" leads, we do not have to be ignorant to others opinions to uphold our own, and this is what Barack Obama stands for.

American ideals of self-reliance and hard work, have backfired into selfishness and greed. We justify greed by claiming we worked hard for what we have and therefore deserve to abstain from being our brother's keeper. Ironically, the majority of you that I know are self-proclaimed Christians, but I see little of your Christian values in your politics. I see little of the importance of free choice you claim so much to believe in as essential to our life and existence in our politics. I see little of the Christian ideal that worldly wealth means nothing, and that it is up to you as Christians to impart of your substance freely with little thought to what you get in return. If you believe in Jesus Christ as a more than a prophet or an activist, then I'd like to see you start bridging the gap between your political philosophies and your claimed religious ideals because there are too many of you that contradict. If you believe in Christianity, then I'd like to see you act as Christ has acted and associate with the Samaritans of our day. If living your religion is the most important thing to you, then live your religion in politics as well. What is more important to you? Being a good Christian? Or being a good capitalist?

To those of you who have accepted lies and fear as a means to preserve life as the way it is, then you have misunderstood America and overlooked history. To those of you who think a Democrat will only drive our country further down, you have also overlooked history, as it is Democrats like Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy that have saved America in times of crisis. To those of you think that you can now stop participating as an American because YOU didn't vote for Obama, you will be left behind. To those of you who doubt Barack Obama, I have the utmost confidence that he will prove you wrong and will win not only the minds and hearts of our country, but the minds and hearts of those we have isolated and broken friendship with, and the hearts and minds of those we have fought against and with in the the Middle East.

Inevitably when a leader like Barack Obama rises up, there are those who try to silence them. They have done it to Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, JFK...and although they may take the man himself from us, they have never been successful at taking their ideals, their power, their impact, their inspiration, or their memory from us. And no matter what happens, no matter if the assassination attempts, which will inevitably come, are successful or not, it is too late for those who desire to spread hate and intolerance. We are already changed, because we have been changing with each of these men, and we proved it last night. We have already been given a glimpse of what it feels like to move history, because we did it yesterday and its addicting.

We could choose to live in fear like we've been fed for the past 8 years, we can choose to be afraid that one more great man will be taken away, but I choose to live by hope, that even if they are successful in silencing him, a thousand more will rise up to take his place and speak his words, and the new America will see to it that we continue to move forward. No assassination has ever stopped the cause, slavery still ended, civil rights still changed, and new ways of negotiation and peace are still being sought for as a result of all those men that have come before Obama, and have been taken prematurely. Our world would have been a better place if each of these men were allowed to live out their lives in full, but we are still who we are because they gave us a brief moment in history that we can never forget.

And just as my entire life has proved, my heroes have always been, and still are, black.

To Barack Obama!

"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'."
-Bob Dylan

Just something to think on.


  1. Well written essay. I admire your passion and commitment to furthering minority rights. I think, though, that you should be careful to not fall into the trap of assuming because Obama is black he will automatically embody the traits of your heros.

  2. I think that is an excellent point; I think that a lot of people are just excited that there is a black president and that's why they're Obama fans.

    To put it simply, and I think I didn't do a good job of expanding on this in the essay, Obama is a hero to me because he has a very common element with my other heroes, being that no matter where he goes he leaves things better than when he found them, and does so at great personal risk and sacrifice. My mantra I've developed in life is to always aim to do more good than bad, and if anyone accomplishes that, and especially in a political realm, then they are to some extent a hero to me. And I really admire Obama's drive to do good. He realized after Columbia that to make any real change, he had to do it from the inside out and that he needed to understand the laws, so he went to law school. And actually, this is what has recently helped me make up my mind that the type of law I want to go into is human and civil rights - so he has had a direct impact on the direction of my life; and that's why I tie him in with my other heroes, because I see the impact they had on shaping my thinking and how it prepared me for later events in my life. I think that if more professionals went into law or medicine with such a pure intent as Obama, and not just to make lots of money, that so much more could come from our country.

    Thanks for your comment Brad! :)