Just over four years ago, I was a 9th grade English teacher at Morrow High School in Morrow, GA--a school whose student body was overwhelmingly, if not entirely, composed of low-income students of color. During a vocabulary exercise, I asked students to use choose the correct word to complete a sentence which began 'When Barack Obama is President...'. My students were upset. "Don't joke like that, Ms. A," they said, "A black man will never get into the White House."
Just a few short months after that exercise, I held my infant daughter in my arms and cried joyful tears as Barack Obama put his hand on the Lincoln bible and became sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. That night, after the inaugural balls, after the toasts--Obama and his family slept in the house that black slaves built. That fact, as well as the symbolic significance of Obama's choice of the Lincoln bible, was not lost on me. I looked at Obama, born of a white Kansan and a black Kenyan, and I saw myself. I saw my students. I saw all the generations of 'No' and 'Never' crashing down. I thought of my students--living on the literal and economic edges of Atlanta, an American city characterized by the Civil Rights--and I had hope.
After last Tuesday's re-election of President Obama--I have hope, still.
The world is changing, and I welcome it. There is power in symbolism. There is power in believing you can, that we all can.
Despite the vitriolic political discourse of our elected officials, I have hope.
Despite the coded racism of Fox News and its associated pundits (where white men lament the end of "traditional America" i.e. white, Christian hegemony), I have hope.
Despite Ann Coulter and Donald Trump, I have hope!
I have hope that fills me.
My former students--wherever you are in the world--I think of you today. I hope for you.