The Election of Barack Obama and Race

As much as last night and today mark one of the greatest steps in the history of this country, we should all note that we still have a long way to go. And my biggest fear following the election of an African-American to the highest office in this country is the minds of those who have yet to flinch on bigotry, hate and entitlement. Not 12 hours since the most remarkable moment of my lifetime, I'm already hearing race creep up, and it's coming fast. And it's not coming solely from the South, but also from "blue states" such as New Jersey, New York, California and Maryland. Some are speaking directly to their disgust with the results of this election, while others are showing some restraint, for now.

It's often the case that our greatest days can bring out the worst in us, and vice versa. Since we're a country of mixed races, upbringings, beliefs, morals, educations and countless other areas that shape each of us, opposing views should always be listened to and taken into consideration. But when it comes to judgements made based upon race, sexual orientation, religion or any host of reasons, there's simply no excuse for judgement. We are all entitled to be who we are and no one has the right to resort to violence or hate-filled language as a result.

As I've mentioned many-a-time here, my views on race in this country and the world were shaped in a number of classrooms in Boston from 1993-1996. I studied inequality, the civil rights movement, economics and literature, and realized that our people are very different, and in some cases, these differences literally and figuratively rip us apart. Those classes and the things I read and saw and the people I met changed me forever. I grew up in a small suburban town where racism was somewhat commonplace. Since many of my childhood heroes were black, I never quite understood those who spit hate. And when I left college, my views were only enhanced. In the years since, they've only grown more. As I walked through the city yesterday, I felt a harmony that I've never felt in my life. Despite not knowing the outcome of the election at the time, I felt a people coming together as one. But the things I've heard over the years and in the last 12 hours has quickly re-opened the reality of where we live.

Last night brought out the greatest in all of us, regardless of which name you chose. It showed that we've grown and progressed. It revealed the beauty of a country that as a whole is open to everyone. But we still have a long way to go. And if there's ever a day to remember that, it's today.