Friday, November 7, 2008

"A mutt like me"

Some of you may have heard that snippet from Pres.-Elect Obama's first press conference. He was talking about what kind of dog they're going to get the girls, and said that although their preference is a shelter dog, Malia is allergic so needs a dog that won't aggravate her allergies, and most shelter dogs, he said, "are mutts like me." It was a light-hearted moment, but it did serve to gel a few thoughts that I've been struggling with over the past couple of days.

I first started writing about Barack Obama months ago, after Ken and I read his book The Audacity of Hope. Even back then, some were ridiculing him for his message of hope. No, hope is not a policy, but neither is it a dirty word. Hope is a state of mind, and hope is what drives each of us to better ourselves, to believe that there is a better way, and sometimes, it's simply what gets us out of bed in the morning.

Indigo wrote on her blog about an experience that Paul had with one of his students. The kid (a black student) was motivated to work harder because of the election of our first black president. This has already made a difference in that student's life, and I believe...I hope...that it's only the beginning.

Did I vote for Obama because he's black? No. I've been writing for months about why I like the guy and why I decided to vote for him, so I won't rehash all that. It's not important now, anyway. But in case you missed it, he is black, or as he put it, a "mutt."

I can't completely understand what it's like to be looked down upon because of my color. I can try to put myself in those shoes, but I've never experienced that sort of prejudice. No matter how you feel about Obama's politics, I think it's vital to try to understand how important this is for our country. And it starts with that little boy in Paul's class. I saw it on election night when Roland Martin was so moved that he couldn't speak; the following day when Colin Powell became choked up about how he and his family felt as they watched the results come in; and the day after that when the normally unflappable Donna Brazile talked about how the civil rights movement led to this moment, and her voice trembled as she spoke.

To downplay the impact of this is to ignore the feelings of millions. It very simply IS a big deal.


  1. Hi Beth,
    Absolutely ... it's a huge deal both at home and abroad. I hope Obama can live up to the expectations. I think he can. It'll be great to have kids in the White House again, too. I didn't catch the press conference but was also wondering what kind of dog they'll get. Hopefully it'll be friendlier than Bush's dog, which just took a bite out of a reporter yesterday. A nice Lab or Retriever would be great ...!

  2. I think we have to have hope or we have nothing. I heard him say that about a mutt but I'm confused why they have to get a dog now. Why not before?

  3. Yes Beth, it is a huge deal, as it takes an albatross away from black america. To be able to say that your dreams are within reach, and to have something as tangible as the President to point to, is something that can't be measured.

    His comment about 'being a mutt' meant a lot to me as well. There are a lot of internal issues within the black community in regards to where someone comes from, and if the experience of someone who is 'mixed' is the same of someone who is 'black'. That is for another day, maybe I will touch the subject, as it is one that has troubled me all my days ... and STILL DOES.

    One of the things is that it showed the rest of the world, which has elected folks from different sectors of their societies (as well as some who are stuck in there intra-issues) that we have grown up, and really are ready for our leadership role, globally.

  4. I know that (speaking for myself) I have hope in our country's leader for the first time in YEARS. The first election that I was allowed to vote in was with Jimmy Carter, I voted for him, but it was because he was democratic ~ not because I knew anything about politics or what was going on in the country at that time, I was too wrapped up in college and the "having fun" stage ~ which was Disco LOL. I voted Democrat because my family has been democrat since they came from Hungary during the war and became citizens of this great place. I didn't want to "shake the boat", as it was when my mother's brother choose to vote republican with Reagan, my grandfather disinherited him because of it!! he was THAT much of a democrat. I've since matured and grown wiser (thank goodness lol) and learned there is so much more than being JUST democrat or republican. And most of the time I'm not happy with either party as they seem to be more interested in what was good for each individual themselves and about the power that was involved than this country as a whole. Not all, but the majority.
    I have hope with Obama and I greatly hope that he will have the ability to create the change that is needed in this country and not let party lines change that. He has such a great burden he is taking on his shoulders with the exodus of Jeeorge doubleyah bush and his henchmen. I'm looking forward to his time in office. Blessings* teresa

  5. I agree Beth, it certainly is a big deal, and not just for America. Obama's success will bring hope to many across the globe.
    He's still got his work cut out but at least he doesn't have a tough act to follow.
    Congratulations America.

    B. x

  6. When you get down to it, most of the population of the country are mutts. Is there any group that are not a mixture of different nationalities? Not here in the USA, maybe in some isolated country though.


  7. you are a sensible person but unfortunately, many many many in the U.S. hate a person based on looks, color, weight, social status, job, where they live, what they drive. My daughter twice had to defend MY JOB in front of a group of her peers at different times in high school. She came home in tears, embarressed. Why do people hate so much...why do people judge others so quickly....i could go on and on.
    Obama will either fail us or prove himself to be honorable. You are right....without hope, there is nothing. I know that well. XOXO

  8. As I read this post, a friend is reading aloud the words of Barack Obama from his first book, "Dreams From My Father". Four days after the election, his words bring a lump to my throat. Listening to such eloquence from a self-described 'mutt' who truly understands the world we inhabit, I finally dare to hope that this country has indeed taken a very different path.

    Let us all turn to the task. With joy.

  9. Well, I'm white, but years ago when I was first interested in my heritage and asked mom about it she simply told me I was a "Heinz 57". LOL

  10. While I didn't vote for Obama and am less than thrilled with his politics, I am the first to understand what an important event this is. I have two bi-racial grandchildren (one adopted, one not) and I do know that this is an event that will change their view of where their place is in this world. My first thoughts were of Rosa Parks and, of course, Martin Luter King's "I have a dream". In the 60's I worked for a doctor for a while that would not let black patients sit in the regualar waiting room. They had to come in the back door and sit in a storage room. I remember thinking how wrong that was and wonder if that doctor is still living and what he is thinking now. Yes, this is a huge event - from the belly of a slave ship to the White House. We have come a long way.
    Hugs, Joyce

  11. well written beth and ya talk sense hun. love mort xx

  12. Without hope there is no future

  13. Dear friend, you bring tears to my eyes. You understand so much and your heart is so big. I feel very blessed to have gotten to know you. You and Ken give me faith in the goodness of humankind.

  14. Barack has a positive and great outlook for America as evidenced in his books. He represents the american dream in many aspects, and the prejudice and nastiness that Republicans have served up only goes to show why there must remain a separation of Church and State.

  15. As you know, Beth Mr.Obama wasn't my choice. It didn't stop me form being proud. For like Mr.Obama, I too am a Mutt; multi-racial. I do know what is loke to be judged because, not only because of the colour of one's skin, but one's faith. And Mark now has some idea, given the looks we recieve whenever we are out and about (you should have seem the looks I got with my MacCain/Palin buttom). I belive Mr.Obama's being elected has not just given children of colour, but all Amercians the the hope they too can see their Amercian dream com true too.

  16. Wonderfully said dear friend. An update on the student I talked continues, it wasn't a one time thing. Paul said he's never seen someone so inspired that he's putting his heart into his schoolwork now. The amazing thing about this election from Paul's own words, "It's the look you see on these kids faces, they know more about the election process than most adults did when this first began. It's not just black kids, it's all of them. To hear them talk about Obama and have an actual interest in what is going on in this country. We haven't seen this kind of participation in years. " (Hugs) Indy


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