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9to5to9: Making the content of their character matter more

Submitted by on Wednesday, 5 November 2008 No Comment

The great thing about kids is that they see things differently — or don’t see things at all that the jaded adult eye learns to observe.

Take tiny babies, surround them with playmates of every color and they’ll never notice a difference until someone tells them there is one.

That’s the way it is with Big Guy and his friends. He goes to a richly diverse school with people of many races and ethnic origins. You see Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream daily:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Friday, I watched tiny hands of every hue dig side-by-side in the dirt, working together toward a goal. Even though it was a goal some disagreed with. “I’ll plant broccoli, but I’m not gonna eat it,” Big Guy warned.

And as much as the scene made me hopeful, it also made me sad for the day when they begin to realize that some in the world will judge them more by color than by character.

Tonight, we took a giant step toward delaying that day.

“This is our moment,” President-Elect Barack Obama told supporters in Chicago and viewers across the nation.

“This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”

And people believed we can in the oddest of places.

Places like the West Virginia county I grew up in, ethnic population less than 1 percent. Obama carried it by a slight margin, though he lost the state. But, then, so did Al Gore and John Kerrey.

Places like the entire state of Virginia, which hasn’t gone Democratic in a presidential election in my lifetime. It did today.

Places like the county where I now live, where the fact that Obama trails by less than 0.5 percent with weeks of votes still to be counted is the moral equivalent of a win in this dead-red territory.

No, not everyone believes. There’s a lot of red on the map south of the Mason Dixon Line. But then, the two previous Democractic tickets — which included men from Tennessee and North Carolina — couldn’t make inroads there either.

It never occurred to Big Guy to question whether America would elect an African-American president. He had no prejudice to overcome in voting for Obama in his school’s mock election today.

He chose The Bomber because he thought Obama is nice and John McCain is grumpy. “Will The Cain be nicer now that The Bomber won?” he asked tonight just before bedtime.

And now, he’ll never have cause at all to apply color to question electability.

There’s still more work to be done. One election, no matter how historic, doesn’t erase racism. But for tonight at least, as I look at the sleeping guys, I know we as a country truly are capable of judging someone not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Yes, we can.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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