Maybe you can even be an astronaut after all.

I like noises, I need to be around people. The first few weeks in this apartment, the downstairs was vacant. Now, it’s comforting to hear footsteps, TV, dishes clinking below me. Lately I’ve felt like I’m in a cocoon of too much silence, too much me, and I need to be surrounded by noise that is not silence, people who are not me. Things which are not the endless work I need to be doing, the grades I need to finish up, lesson plans I need to cobble together for tomorrow.

Of course I am writing this instead.

Yesterday was nervous, last night epic, this morning emotional. Calls and texts from around the country. I wanted to run around in the streets, but had to be content with my glass of wine and my cats, and early rising as always.

Seeing the interest and subsequent elation of my students brings it all home for me. Even the five year olds are talking about the election – of course, when a little boy asks me if I am voting for Obama, and I reply yes, and he tells me seriously that McCain is a liar, and I ask him why, he has no clue why. I don’t know. My grandma told me so?

But the fact is… Obama won. For these kids growing up in a still very segregated Detroit, race is a very distinct line. And I find myself drawing lines myself, from our staff meeting last week – talking about how we as teachers in a 100% African American school can get past the self-fulfilling expectations that these kids will not succeed at the same levels as their richer, whiter counterparts – to last night, and to the first indication I’ve seen in a long time that the “American Dream” is even an option anymore.

Race has nothing to do with why I voted how I did, but in retrospect the fact is startling, incredible: America just elected her first black president. One of my colleagues today explained that his grandmother’s father was born in slavery, and kept saying “it has not been that long. It has not been that long.” It’s a benchmark for us. Race and gender and all those other pre-determined things don’t have any sway on a person’s value and ability, but our ability or inability to elect certain people is very telling. And we did it.

(Next up… a president who is a female lesbian hispanic muslim?)

So okay, I’m waxing idealistic. I know very well that our new president elect is not any kind of messiah, just another politician, and that it’s going to be tough – because government is complicated, people aren’t honest, and it’s even harder to live up to people’s expectations of the Poster Child of the American Dream. The economy is still going down the toilet, innocent people are still dying, the bad guys are still doing their thing. But forgive me if I’m emotional for now. And proud. And happy.

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One Response to Maybe you can even be an astronaut after all.

  1. d.cous. says:

    No, there’s nothing wrong with being happy, Sara. I myself am not a fan of pretty much a single thing that Obama stands for, but I’m still happy that we can have a small-scale bloodless revolution every few years, and that something as dramatic as a change in our leaders isn’t really that likely to have very much impact on our day-to-day lives. I take a lot of comfort in that, since the places where leaders have the most visible impact are the places where they do the most direct harm.

    It sounds like you’re getting the hang of things at school, which I’m very glad to read. You’re still in my prayers, and I hope things continue to improve. I hope to see you soon!

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