Though admittedly I was not as emotional watching this election, nor was I as nervous about the outcome should my preferred candidate lose, it was still wonderful to see President Barack Obama be re-elected. As I watched the election results, however, I had the words of two other Black men on my mind. One of a professor, Dr. N who pointed out the partisanship is really urban versus rural. And the other of my advisors husband who said many things and among them, “relax into it, you don’t do the work.”
I had a friend’s mom ask me if I was voting for President Obama because he was black. I told her yes, confidently. Among other reasons, but I would be lying if I discounted this truth. And why should I? I even love the unease that comes to some at having a Black man, in specific, as the leader of our nation. As I looked at the city of Chicago and the diversity in the crowd of POTUS supporters I thought, this is why I have to move back to a city. I love the culture that dwells within metropolitan areas. I love my own city and how distinct each neighborhood is but they blend together so effortlessly to make one delicious Atlanta. I have never considered myself a Democrat, but I have to say the ugliness of intolerance curdling to the top of the GOP within the last 5 years has been disgusting. I figure in cities its a constant mix, a stirring of the pot as transplants move in, out, and throughout. And to some extent, for me, its about education and professional opportunity. On the other hand its about urban youth and the chance to make a difference. To say, look at me–in to me, see–I look like you we are each fighting our own battles but do not fight them alone anymore. I am here for you, there are no excuses, let’s move.
When I think about my own purpose and my own aspirations I get overwhelmed. For a class assignment I am having to consider where I’ll be in 2, 5, and 10 years and I have been supremely uncomfortable with verbalizing it. When Henry offered that I don’t do the work, I felt about a million lbs lift off my chest. Of course I don’t. I get out of the way and the divine does the work. That’s it. The anxiety of paralyzing fear over choosing the right path…I just have to walk confidently in the direction that my heart choses. Right now, more than ever, that is teaching.
I had what I would call “a moment” with my class on Monday and we took a time out from lecture and addressed some frustrations and other elephants in the room. After class I received messages from them claiming how pleased they were and how close they felt to their classmates. I was honest with them, and in turn they were honest with me. And we can only grow from that. Mondays class is why I have to do this work.
Lastly, I thought about my Pakistani classmate who pointed out the humanity in out political system yesterday. At the end of last night Mitt Romney may not be the president but he got to go home to his wife and family. He is not in exile, President Obama wished him well, and he is still in every sense of the words, one of us. We see ugly campaigning but we do not see a dictator nor military coups, nor violence. What we see is bad, but the perspective she offered reminded me of how wonderful it truly is to be in a country that supports civic disagreement and the freedom of speech.
I suppose having held all this, the morning after has been one where I smiled, said thank you to my source and set an intention to get out of the way. Its not President Obama, its something he represents to each of his voters. Its a promise we need upkept. Its work we ultimately have to do ourselves before we can see it. And that’s the great irony of it all.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson