Post-Election Thoughts: Bittersweet but Hopeful

(This is written as part of the Youth Media Blog-a-thon, sponsored by Youth Outlook and WireTap.)

I know I’m a little late on this, but thought I should weigh in on some post-election thoughts now that I’ve had some time to digest.

My feelings on the election results have been a weird mix of joyful relief and bittersweetness. Both the homies Colin and Rage have posted their own thoughts, and they had similar sentiments.

On the one hand, I was very fortunate to be able to celebrate Obama’s victory at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, on Auburn Ave in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward on election night, and the joyous, celebratory mood was amazing. There were literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of people outside, dancing in the street. The traffic on Auburn Ave was stopped and people were just parking their cars in the middle of the street and getting out to dance, hug, and celebrate with all the other people there. I have never seen such excitement around an American political election in my life, and could not deny the historical significance of the moment, especially since I’m now living in the South, in one of the hearts of the Civil Rights Movement no less.

And to top it off…hundreds of people started doing the Cupid Shuffle on the corner we stood on:

Cupid shuffling for Obama? Pretty dope.

It is no small thing that we in 2008 America have progressed to the point where we can collectively elect a Black man to the office of President, in a country where those in power have and continue to demonstrate a clear hatred towards the African American community. It is no small thing that, even if on a completely superficial level, Obama’s image symbolizes to children of color that they have the ability to pursue many different paths in life (as opposed to narrowing them down to say, being entertainers or pro athletes). It is no small thing that we have a President who demonstrates an image of masculinity that includes being a loving, respectful, supportive husband/partner/father.

However, after the joyous celebrating in reaching this step on the path to progress, I was then very sad and disappointed to find out that in my home state of California, voters passed Proposition 8, effectively amending the state constitution to define the state-recognized version of marriage as that between a man and a woman. Now I know the issue of sexuality is a controversial one in our society, but I’m staunchly against any laws that take away freedoms from a group of people based on criteria like race, gender, class and yes, sexuality/sexual preference. And seeing as how a lot of California’s fucked up policies get spread to other states (Three Strikes laws, anyone? How about private prison development?), I couldn’t help but feel like we as a people had taken some very small steps forward, but many steps back as well.

Which leaves us where? Right here:

ba-marriage10_0499433852

Right back in the streets, demanding justice. Proposition 8’s passing has fired up opponents to be out protesting in the streets, particularly targeting Mormon Churches, many of whom which, along with Catholic congregations, contributed millions of dollars and countless hours of work to get the initiative passed. The
media has also pointed to the high percentage of African American voters who supported Prop. 8 as a factor contributing to its success, but I would caution against falling into that divisive trap. To pin the outcome of an election on another group of oppressed people who make up a tiny portion of the total electorate (Blacks make up 6.2% of CA’s population, and an even smaller percentage of it’s eligible voting population) is ridiculous, and seems more like a classic strategy by the powers that be to divide different oppressed groups against each other. That’s not to say that homophobia in communities of color does not exist, or excuse it, I’m just trying to keep everything in perspective.

Interesting times we find ourselves in. A Black President, although a definite sign of progress, is not going to solve all of our societal problems, and Obama in particular has clearly demonstrated he is a moderate Democrat at best, or at least very willing to move to the center, no matter where his true beliefs may be situated.

Still, I am inspired by him to continue to fight for the world I would like to see, in any way that I am able to. Change only comes with struggle, and no one understands that lesson more than the people out in the streets demanding equal justice. I draw inspiration from my GLBTQ brothers and sisters out there fighting for equality. As much as we’d like to think so, a courtroom or policy change alone oftentimes doesn’t bring about the real changes we want to see in our communities, in our culture, in our society. When the institutional avenues available to us do not work, you have to take it to the streets. I have hope that we will make sure that our communities are well informed and organized to take action and demand that the government recognize that it is created by us, the people, and it will be held accountable to a progressive vision for the world.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

~Arundhati Roy

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7 responses to “Post-Election Thoughts: Bittersweet but Hopeful

  1. Nice post bro. It has been the most emotional whirlwind election of a lifetime. I am so proud and inspired by Obama and optimistic about the future of our country. At the same time I feel so profoundly sad about our beloved homestate CA setting such a despicable, hateful, ignorant trend against same-sex couples. Hopefully we can use all this energy to organize and repeal the law. Maybe it will start with cities taking a stand.

    Hey, how about a shout-out to John Avalos, my old comrade and progressive mentor– and newly elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to represent District 11!! Go John!!!

  2. Great piece, and thanks for a little perspective on the Obama win. I’ll try to focus on the big picture while gritting my teeth at the initial decisions.

  3. Thanks to both of you for stopping through. And definitely gotta give some love to that man John Avalos. Yeah District 11!

  4. Brother Kori. You know how to put shit. I always appreciate how you contextualize and interpret shit that goes on around you. The way you do helps me to do the same.

    I don’t think that your reactions to the elections and voting results is late at all. Honestly, Barack as the presidential elect is still a bit bizarre to me. I think that my reactions and thoughts are going to waver and change daily, but i know that Obama being elected here has definitely shifted not only my thoughts about this country that i am from, but also about my placement in it, and how i literally FEEL in it. It’s kinda nuts processing all of it, but that process like i said before is finna be ongoing. Thanks for your thoughts homie.

    G.Mitch

  5. Much love, G. The thing I love about the blog game is that it has always been a way to help me personally process the shit going on around me, like you said, so I’ve always felt like I get more out of it than anything I could hope to give to the ten folks reading this. Plus, we are shaped by those around us and those who came before so thanks for the kind words, bruh!

    Crazy times we find ourselves in, definitely looking forward to reading/hearing about your ongoing thoughts.

    Peace,

    KC

  6. My man Kori…good look brother, I always appreciate how you struggle to understand the beautiful complexity in everything. I too found myself conflicted and pained by the election results, especially as a Cali Kid…no doubt that Prop 8 shit hurt man, and just 3 weeks after watching my moms renegade wedding. but folks are keeping it movin; stormin the streets and the courts… and our ability to celebrate while we mourn and appreciate our victories without becoming complacent has always moved us forward and beyond…keep up the beautiful work brother, its inspiring.

  7. DSB510!

    “…Our ability to celebrate while we mourn and appreciate our victories without becoming complacent has always moved us forward and beyond…”

    I like that. Your work and thoughts are an inspiration as well homeboy, thanks for stopping through!

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