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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Making History and Heading Toward Normal

I think that to a large extent, how each of us perceives the larger context of Barack Obama becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president has to do with the generation that each of us is part of.

I was talking with my 25-year-old daughter on the phone last night during Obama's speech after the Montana and South Dakota Democratic primaries and said, "Well, are you exited, watching history being made?"

"Oh, I'm watching some comedy. ... 'History being made?' "

"Yes! The first time that a major political party has ever had a black person as its candidate! It's so cool!"

"Well, I guess ..."

After talking with her a bit more, I got the strong impression that it's not all that big a deal to her generation to think of someone other than a white man as a presidential candidate. She grew up seeing people as just people, not people who have specific skin colors. And she, an American of mostly Polish and Irish ancestry and with skin whiter than white, grew up to marry a dark-skinned man with Puerto Rican and black ancestors and to be the mother of a pale-mocha baby. But when I was growing up in an insular, racist, middle-class white community in southeast Texas in the late 1960s and the entirety of the 1970s, her life choices would've been seen as very unusual, probably intentionally rebellious, and even socially suicidal. So though I think Obama's win is amazing and wonderful, to my daughter and her friends, it's not amazing. It just is what it is.

Now, that is cool.



6 comments:

Absolutely Tokyo! said...

I agree. That really is cool!

Just found your blog and like what I see and read here. As Ah-nuld would say, "I'll be back."

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Hey, Absolutely Tokyo, thanks for stopping by. I always like to hear from new voices.

Songbird said...

Katharine, it does seem to be breaking that way, although I'm sure it's not yet universal. Still, I'm hopeful.

KathyF said...

As I wrote on my blog, I had almost the same conversation with my 19-year-old.

I have to say my reaction was mixed. I can remember--barely--those days of outright segregation, but I too think it's pretty normal to have a man like Barack Obama winning the nomination. But then, I've had four years to get used to the idea!

Editrix said...

Hmmm . . . I'm twenty-seven, white, and a woman, and for some reason, I felt more mushy and starry-eyed over Obama's campaign than I did Clinton's. The idea of having a black man as president was thrilling, and Obama's speech on race got me all choked up. However, the idea of having a woman president felt . . . well, like no big deal. Of course we could have a woman president. Who would think otherwise? Let's move on.

Maybe that's because of the whole young-feminist thing, which has been in the news so much recently.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Absolutely cool and an obviously proud moment for you as a parent. I, too, was raised in the deep, dark, racist south, so I have always raised my white, white son as color blind as possible. He (19) does not understand how big of a deal this is. His gf? Half Puerto Rican, Half Lebonese.

A toast to parents who have raised their children to see the INSIDE of a person. (of course his gf IS drop dead gorgeous!)

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