Photo speaks volumes to historic possibilities in election
February 20, 2008
While perusing the Internet one day this week, I stumbled on a photo of Barack Obama supporters taken as he campaigned before one of the recent primary elections.
Shot from the stage area, the photograph did not show the candidate; rather it focused on a racially diverse mix of supporters that typify Obama's political base.
Possibly not surprisingly, there were more white faces in the crowd than black, but it was the black faces that stood out.
Not just because they stood in stark contrast to the Caucasions present, but because those faces revealed something uniquely genuine. Something that has been noticeably absent from our nation's political landscape in recent years. They were faces of hope and possibility.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, the photograph offered a visual narrative on a possible future; a future that would no longer restrict a person of color from ascending to the highest office in the land.
A pair of faces in the photo were particularly striking. One was that of a black boy, probably about 7-8 years old, who was standing in the front row and leaning on a barrier that separated the stage, and the candidate, from the crowd.
The boy's hands were clasped tightly, as though in prayer. His eyes were open wide and fixed on the man standing before him. There was something reflected in that boy's eyes that was striking. It wasn't only the look of innocence shown on the face of a child who as yet may not have felt the persecution of being born black in America. It was something more.
In the boy's eyes, we might imagine that he didn't consider the impossibility of the man on stage becoming America's first black president. Instead, he appeared to believe only in the possibility that he could be.
A few rows back stood another black male. The man was several decades older; weathered and wizened by the years. One could imagine this man has known racial prejudice; that he must be acutely aware of the social divide that has plagued this country far too long.
Yet oddly, there appeared the same ray of hope in his eyes. A belief that this country is standing at the precipice of something truly historic; vastly more important than political parties, our philosophical or religious differences, social standing, gender, sexual orientation or whether we are of the conservative or liberal persuasion.
Whatever happens between now and November, one senses that Americans, the presumed leaders of the world, have finally turned the page on racism.
To be sure, racism will always fester among us. But the younger generations have led us to a point where the distinction between black and white, and everything in-between, has been significantly blurred.
The jury is still out on whether we will elect a war hero, a woman, an evangelist or a black man to our nation's highest office in November. Reality suggests that the power structure in Washington D.C. will force us into deciding between John McCain and Hillary Clinton.
Certainly, there are many who don't want to upset the apple cart. Those who are comfortable and well situat-ed will most likely be afraid of taking the plunge into previously unchartered waters.
But we should remind ourselves that the window of opportunity opens only briefly, and that it may be a long time before it opens again.
We have a unique chance to show the rest of the world that the United States of America still stands for the highest of ideals.
We can help thaw the ice that has formed between our government and former allies. We can move toward a dialogue of understanding and commonality among those who consider us enemies. There is every reason to believe that the rest of the world is anxious to believe in us again.
Most importantly, we can prove that the ideals promised by our forefathers were more than just empty words. If we are ever to model the credo that we are all created equal, this could be the time.
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