November 10, 2008

November 10, 2008

 

Dear LoMA Family,

 

Last year I wrote about how inspiring the candidacy of Barrack Obama was. As excited as I was back then, I never expected his election as president to be as transformational as it’s proving to be. As I’ve written before, I have tremendous faith in his skills as an astute thinker, brilliant communicator, and effective organizer. Even if he wasn’t Black (or of mixed race, if you prefer), he has inspired me with hope. But he is widely considered Black, and that will have a huge effect on all Americans no matter who they are.

Progressive whites and people of color can see this as a validation of all that we have worked for. Like nearly all educators, I see education as the key to ending racism. Our theory is that as more and more people become better educated, the country will see skin color as just one aspect of who a person really is. The demographic evidence of this election supports this theory as Obama strong majority of first time voters and young voters validates our great hope for the future and the power of increased voter turn-out. Furthermore, Obama also did better among white college graduates (55% - 45%) than Kerry or Gore thereby demonstrating the power of education over racism.

Less educated, poorer whites in the South were the only group that voted against Obama in higher numbers than they voted against Kerry four years ago. If this group voted against Obama because he is Black, then they may become the part of the electorate that is affected most by his presidency because they may become the greatest beneficiaries of his progressive policies. What will become of their racism if a successful Black president increases education, jobs, wages and health care – the very issues that matter most to the people who voted against him?

The last group that will benefit from Obama’s presidencies are minority Americans. I found it interesting that while I was so sure that Obama would win months ago, most of my Black and Latino friends said that they did not believe it until it was formerly announced at 11:00 last Tuesday night. They seem to have suffered so many disappointments, that they didn’t want to get their hopes up that America would vote for a black man. In the end, beyond college educated whites, Obama built a broad coalition that earned him 67% of the Latino vote and 62% of the Asian vote. In fact, next to Blacks (95% of the vote), Jews supported his candidacy the most with 78% voting for him. Now that we have this evidence of declining racism in America, how will Obama’s presidency actually help minority Americans? Only time will tell for sure, but so far I do sense a new empowering feeling of Black Pride among LoMA’s African American students, a raising of political consciousness among all of our students and greater sense of “Yes We Can” among our entire school community. It is important to remember that no matter what Obama does, things for our country are likely to get worse before they get better, and he will make unpopular decisions, but if we can hold onto our high hopes and stay involved in the political process Obama’s presidency can truly transform who we are as a nation.

 

Proudly American,

 

 

John Wenk

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