The Multiracial Activist
January 20, 2009
From the Editor:
As this is not a partisan political posting, I'd appreciate it if readers stayed on point with the topic at hand. Partisan political comments are considered off-topic and will be deleted without further consideration. Thank you.
I decided to skip the swearing-in ceremony and waited until noon to go to the city for the parade. We listened to it on XM Radio on the way to the Metro station. Since moving here in September of 1992, I've witnessed both of Bill Clinton's inaugurations and the first one for Bush, so I knew what to expect with regard to crowds and navigation of same. I wanted to be there, but I didn't need to be there for the entire day given I expected the Metro system to be a mess. Not a mess like The Mall after a concert. No, a mess like trying to navigate the Gallery Place/Chinatown station on a Capitals game night multiplied by ten thousand. Since my wife and son went with me, I felt all day long in that cold with that mass of humanity was just too much.
We arrived around 1:00 pm and stood in line near a security checkpoint across the street from the grandstand area not too far from Metro Center, the National Press Club Building and the Warner Theatre. Once the gates were open and people were allowed through the security checkpoint to the parade route, I began to look for a decent spot to watch the parade. After standing around and trying out different vantage points, we lucked out with some great seats in the bleachers right across from the grandstand after standing in line for about 30 minutes. The police started to let anyone, ticketed or not, into the stands once the parade was ready to begin.
C-c-c-c-c-old. My frostbite had frostbite. We decided to stay until after Obama's limo passed us by. I would have liked to stay longer as a high school marching band from the town next to my hometown was in the parade. I went to high school with some of those kids' parents. It was just too cold to wait any longer as the parade got started late and it was starting to get dark.
As a consequence of my active duty service in the Marine Corps, my civil liberties work and employment in government relations with DC area trade associations, I've been fortunate to witness several historic events in my short 38 years. I was extremely excited that my son was able to attend this with me. At eleven years old, my multiracial son can only partially grasp the magnitude of what he witnessed today in a multiracial man like him being sworn in as President of the United States. It will click sometime later and he'll be glad he was there today to witness a major piece of American history in the moment.
That said, the election and presidency of Barack Obama is not the end of racism or skin color collectivism in the United States. However, it is a major milestone on the journey to that destination. A black-identified biracial man was elected President of the United States. The significance of this event should not be understated. His ascendancy to the White House was not due to his skin color, but through his political skill, charisma and a little luck – which is always helpful in the best of campaigns.
Obama's status as a young, charismatic and skilled rising star in the opposition party of one of the most unpopular chief executives in U.S. history did not hurt things. Further, possessing the tenacity to survive a grueling battle with serious adversaries within his own party and the major opposing party who were not unwilling to resort to the worst of gutter tactics in order to achieve a victory didn't hurt his chances. In short, he won through political skill, not by playing the race card, appealing to "white guilt" or via other divisive tactics. So, political views aside, let's acknowledge it for what it is – progress with regard to racial views in the United States.
I don't know what the next move is, but I do know this is not the endgame. There is much work left to do…