Thursday, November 13, 2008

How we can believe

Every now and again, the enormity of the past week's events almost take my breath away. Since I'm incapable of a sort of lofty prose, I haven't been able to really convey that sentiment at this site.

TNC, for one, has talked about how it's taken time for him to wrap his mind about last Tuesday. My parents, both raised in Jim Crow Arkansas, have tried to put their effusive feelings into words that would resonate with me. But one of my dear friends from Shreveport, someone I've come to think of as my third grandfather or roughly a 30th uncle, came up with a poignant way to put Election Night into context:

In spite of the polls, I could not bring myself to believe that it would happen (Eds. note: And he's not lying. A couple weeks before the election, he told me he thought the polls were essentially a crock of shit).

How could I believe that this would happen when, as a child and teen, the water fountains were marked white and colored, the toilets were for men, women and colored, and I was forced to sit in the balcony of the movie theater?

How could I believe when in the 1960s it took me 3 days to register to vote, because the registrar of voters closed the office when I entered?

How could I believe when in the 1960s a white clerk in a store pulled a gun on me because I insisted that he charge the purchase to Mrs. Veronica D. Perkins (my mother) rather than to Veronica? (Eds. note: I changed the name to protect the identity of my friend and his mom; no one should have to be associated with this little enterprise other than myself).

How could I believe when I was without a coat one winter while in college, because my roommate wore my coat when he sat at a white counter in a five and dime store, and spent the winter in jail?

How could I believe when for many years, my mother made less than a white teacher with the same training and experience?

How could I believe when my Grandfather was a slave?

Photo from Callie Shell. (Pound to my old high school friend LH for the link).


avery said...

dawg...that is my favorite picture from that set. that's, like, what you want your old lady to be like.

blackink said...

Absolutely. No doubt, Michelle represents for her man and her family. If anything, Barack's choice of wife gives me comfort that he'll surround himself by the right folks in the White House.