I never, ever, ever thought this could happen - not that I thought our Obama could lose, you understand - but that I would hear a whole neighborhood CHEERING A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION! That was without a doubt the most amazing thing I've ever heard in my life. And his acceptance speech was wonderful.
It had special significance to me. The last time I stood in Chicago's Grant Park, I had a wet washcloth draped over my nose and mouth for the tear gas, you see - I'm a veteran of the 1968 convention riots, and my apartment was a first aid station. To me, Grant Park has since then been a battlefield - I think of it somewhat like Civil War buffs think of Gettysburg. It was my war.
So to see President Obama - oh, all right, President-Elect Obama, if you must be picky - make that acceptance speech on that ground somehow cleansed it for me. And also, remember, he's a South Side Chicago working guy - and I'm an old South Side Chicago (Hyde Park) working civil rights activist. He's one of MY kids. I foufght for his right to be President, by God.
I will blog nicely and amusingly for you tomorrow, my children - promise - but tonight I am just sitting in absolute awe and delight. For once, the good guys won.
And I am snottily proud of this achievement - of his achievement - because I began working for civil rights in the very late '50s. I was a member of CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) and SANE (For a Sane Nuclear Policy) when I was not quite 13 years old.
Hyde Park in Chicago is the neighborhood where the University of Chicago lives, and it's where I grew up. I was raised in the same house as my mother and her four sisters, and I went to the same grammar school (I don't recommend this - they were all VERY bright, and every time I screwed up I was confronted by a very huffy nun informing me that my mother and my aunts would NEVER have done anything that stupid - these were mostly nuns who had actually taught my mother and my aunts on account of nuns don't EVER die).
Hyde Park, however, has another distinction - it was just about the first completely integrated community in America. Well, a lot of Africans studied political science there, and went to the medical school there...and it just sort of happened that way. (This is the way it seemed to me growing up there from my perspective now - as a child, because integration was a normal state of things to me, I never paid any attention at all. For all I know, the integration was, in fact, planned - but it certainly never seemed that way - it was just a thing that - well, it just WAS.)
Now, I've always thought that a great deal of prejudice springs from the thought that 'These people aren't as good as we are." This was impossible in Hyde Park. I mean, when the couple in the married students' house over your back fence are a prince and princess of their own country, and they are, particularly in full tribal robes on their way to a University function, the most stunningly gorgeous pair you've ever seen in your life, and they are way richer than you are, and they're on their way home to rule a country as soon as they complete their doctorates in political science...um, prejudice kind of doesn't work. Drooling adulation and envy work just fine, however. I prayed for years that I'd wake up black one morning so that I too could be that gorgeous, brilliant and rich.
So as soon as I woke up to the way the rest of the nation treated black people, I thoroughly lost my temper about it and started working for civil rights. And in later years, I worked for gay rights (well, you know - drag queens are better looking than I am, too). Then I took a much closer look at war - and I started fighting against that particularly idiotic activity, too.
I mean, really - can you think of anything more stupidly wasteful than war? Ruins the countryside, ruins the buildings, knocks out (see World War I) damn near an entire generation of young men - what an absolutely brainless way to settle differences. I have always (I mean always since I started thinking about it of course - I don't think I was that into it at say, two years old) thought that if two heads of state decide to go to war, they should fight it out on their own. Wouldn't that be better? Pistols for two at dawn? With, naturally, the vice presidents as seconds. The people who fight the war the way war is fought now don't have any personal connection with their enemies. Let the ones who're angry at each other work off their animosities with each other without involving 19 year olds for God's sake.
Oh, well, I got lost in there somehow. But oh, my God, what a glorious night. What a goddamn fucking glorious night.
Now, my children, let's all get ourselves together and help our new President out. Do what he asked. Help us pull together as a nation and work out our problems. Because, as the man said:
YES WE CAN!