Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Art of the Possible

It’s early. 6:30 am on the West Coast. I’m usually one happier to rise at the crack of noon, but today I’m excited. Today I’m going to witness, along with the rest of the world one of the most historic events of our country’s history—the inauguration of Barack Obama.

You see, I’m kind of a political science/history geek and I’m not white. The impact of what will happen this morning will not be lost on me.

Since I was in high school I’ve paid attention to presidential campaigns, Supreme Court nominations, foreign policy decisions and was thrilled when I got a free trip to visit not New York City, Los Angeles or Vegas, but Washington DC. There I could smell the politics happening. Little known fact among my blogging audience: in 1986 I was elected the first female Governor of the Montana Youth Legislature program. Rambling down the halls in Helena, I had my own coterie of assistants, a press that exposed scandal after scandal (yes I was hosting poker games in the back office) and the dubious distinction of scaring the hell out of the adult advisors when I seriously considered passing a bill legalizing marijuana. Ahhh, the memories. This was also the same program where I met and decided to marry Andy—but that’s a different story.

But while I played an executive on a state capitol hill, I knew presidents were different. They were old to start with. Hey—when you’re 18 Kennedy’s youthful 43 looks, well, very old. And they practiced Christianity. And they were a guy—something I hope will change after Obama’s presidency. And they were white, or at least looked white.

Flash forward with me to a market in China in 2005. It’s hot, crowded, dirty, and we need to get something. Since Dylan is a child, the most powerless creature on the planet, she can’t help. I’m in a unique situation for myself, but not for over a billion people in the world. I look like everyone else, but I can’t even speak the language. Andy, however, is (relatively) tall, and white.
He could push his way through and the sea of humanity may part.
He could yell,
He could demand.
He really could. That’s the power of being white in much of the world. He didn’t, which frustrated the hell out of me, but I understood. He knew he has this power and he didn’t want to be a jerk. I understand that getting attention from the locals is not the same as becoming President of the United States but power has a funny way of being handed to people for reasons perhaps unclear to even them. Family, gender, skin color—power’s been granted and denied.

Last winter I decided to place my bets on a very different kind of candidate for US President. Sure I’m a gal, and could have easily chosen Hillary, but there was something about Barack. While he was a US Senator, NPR reported that he had called someone who he inadvertently snubbed in order to apologize. He had lived overseas, not on a US military base in some comfortable country, but in Indonesia. And he had to struggle to understand who he was, given a broken home, absent African father and idealistic Kansan mom. Once he started talking about his politics, I mostly liked what I heard (to tell the truth, he’s a bit conservative for me,) and his campaign was one of the best run in the history of US elections. I was behind him because I believed him to be the best candidate for the job. Period.

Which is why I’m up this morning at the crack of dawn. To watch the best candidate (that’s my opinion—you can have your own) take the oath of office for President of the United States. You can argue that being half African helped him win this election. I’ll leave that to the historians and political scientists. But the fact is, his race—not traditionally one to hold power—didn’t stop a majority from voting for him.

No matter what he does as President, the fact that he will be President in just a few short hours is going to garner him chapters in the history books. And for myself, the one who has a child who is like Obama: half white, half something else. I can dream of the possible for her.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Is It Here Yet?

If 2008 were a horse, I'd picture it right now as a tired old nag. Swayback, with no teeth and hardly able to walk, let alone carry a person. Which is weird, because personally for us--2008 wasn't that bad. But it seems it's a year most of us are ready to leave behind. So like a rodent roused from my nap, I inch out of my den--sniff the air and welcome the new year.

Happy 2009 everyone and may this year be sane, safe and prosperous for all.