Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, I'm Happy

I know that people are sick to death of the American election so I won't go on about it. I'm happy with the results, but cautious about my expectations. What happens from now depends on how the American people respond to future proposed changes. Since the end of World War II, Americans have been reluctant to buckle down and do without and I have to imagine that there's going to have to be a lot of that in the future if things are to get better. The pendulum is swinging back to the left after lingering for what felt like an eternity on the right.

The thing that resonates most with me today is that:
  • 146 years ago, slavery ended
  • 44 years ago, Jim Crow laws which mandated "separate but equal" ended
  • 41 years ago, anti-miscegenation laws ended
  • Today, a man who was born of a union between an African man and a Caucasian woman was elected president of the United States by a sizable margin.
The next time someone responds to the topic of Japanese racism with claims of how the U.S. has problems, too, I'm going to send them a psychic punch in the teeth. Yeah, there are still problems in America, but clearly they can't be that bad.

Honestly, I got teary thinking of the progress in thought processes that have been made to obtain the result of today's election. Most Americans may still see color, but clearly, it doesn't matter that much to them in estimating a person's value, intellect, or ability.


Emsk said...

It's bloody fantastic! I couldn't help grinning on my way to work today. I'm skeptical about what he will do as a politian, simply because I don't see a great variety in what any of them do in office. In 1997 we elected Tony Blair, but years later we began to see cracks. Still, how much can one man or woman achieve, and as a symbol it's a huge step forward.

Well done USA!

Anonymous said...

It's very complicated here. No resolution.
Make no mistake that the racism you refer to is still alive and well here.
Perhaps Mr. Obama will transcend the underlaying mode, and bring the contentious groups together.

My husband is working in Florida, and mentioned that several (white) people he works with are now very afraid.

In the very small non-profit I work for, we discovered yesterday that one of our volunteers is a (rabid/evil) Republican. She seems so nice!!!

You can see, then that it's complicated. You can tell I'm biased, yes?

Mr. Obama now has a very heavy burden to bear. One can only hope he is able.

Orchid64 said...

Tess: There will always be racism and bigotry. There will always be someone somewhere reaching unfair conclusions and judging people based on arbitrary factors, whether it be skin color, ethnic background, nationality, or occupation. There will always be people with secret biases that they don't openly reveal or only allow to leak out at the edges for fear of being caught out for what they really are.

The difference is that people in the U.S., by and large, are not acting as if color matters. America is, and I believe I'm not wrong here, the first country with a Caucasian majority to elect a leader of a minority ethnicity. You can try to undermine the validity of that by saying there are still bigots. Of course, there are still bigots, but, as a culture, we've turned a corner and no one else with a Caucasian majority has turned that same corner yet.

I live in a country where Barack Obama and his family couldn't easily rent an apartment pre-election because of his skin color. Hell, I live in a country where I have trouble renting an apartment because of *my* pearly white skin color. America is so far ahead of Japan on this front that it's not even funny.

Yeah, the south is still full of racists. It'll change. It's just lagging behind the rest of America and clearly isn't powerful enough to stop people who don't care about skin color when making choices. When the minority of bigots is small enough that they can't inflict their will on the open-minded majority, that's progress.

Sherry said...

My kids are half Japanese and half (white) American. Not sure which nationality they will end up with as adults since technically Japan makes them pick. Do you think they could ever be prime minister of Japan with their tainted blood line? Not bloody likely in my or even their own lifetime. So regardless of whatever problems America may still have, I think the majority of the country sees beyond race and gender.

I can't even get people to admit my kids are in fact Japanese. The racism that may exist in America is condemned. Racism in Japan is a national passtime, although no one seems to think they are racist at all. One country is working on stopping it, although you can never get rid of it. One country views it as almost a point of national pride.

Sorry, to rant a bit but it really irritates me when people try to justify bad behavior by pointing out that their is bad behavior some place else. Yes, there is so let us all just give up, shall we? No point is even trying to make things better.

I am waiting for the Japanese to start referring to Obama as "hafu." ("half")

Anonymous said...

oh Ms. Orchid,
You are more optimistic than I.
Mr. Obama now has the heavy burden of so many expectations to bear. No human will ever be able to fulfil the desires of so many.
Perhaps he will transcend the competing desires of the world who are in conflict about racism, nationality, politics, greed (rich vs poor), theology, and ultimately fear of the "other".

Orchid64 said...

Actually, I'm very pessimistic. In fact, I think there is no way Obama will live up to the expectations of those who have over-subscribed to his message of hope. I think he knows it's going to be tough, but people are still a bit pie in the sky.

I'm a realist. A black man getting elected president is a concrete sign of progress in the thinking of the American people. This is an utterly objective fact as it is backed up by statistics.

I think there is a hard road ahead, but it has little to do with race (except that bigots will stalwartly refuse to cooperate if the advice comes from a black man). Most of the difficulty to come is going to be economic and that leads to social problems.