The Morning After
I may be fair skinned, freckled, fair eyes and I can’t say that I could possibly relate to the barriers that black people have faced in our nation but being a proud, announce it to the world Muslim girl, I’ve had my fair share of “My mommy says I can’t play with you because you’re a Muslim” moments, having been a public school elementary school student during the Iran hostage situation. Even today, as an adult I get to experience the feeling of an other because a simple scarf on the hair evokes dirty looks, rude comments and there has been worse situation than that – yes, on occasion even I have ventured out in a scarf on the way to mosque. Yet, still I know that those experiences have been nothing compared to the journey that black Americans have faced.
Still, this morning I woke up feeling like I could really breathe, like the world was magically this new place and certainly we have last night witnessed barriers drop and a unification of Americans over something positive .. we united for change and we picked the best candidate for president. I could turn to my daughters and say “yes we can” because “yes we did” because this moment is a hope for everyone that we can change circumstances, that we can make a difference and for everyone that has felt like an other this moment proves that barriers can be overcome.
I figured I was a little too elated but I relished those moments and allowed this magical world to wash over me as long as possible. It would be my morning stop at the gas station that would bring me back to reality as an irrate customer pointed his finger towards I don’t even know where – declaring “That Mexican won’t be drying my car off anymore” and something about “That Mexican makes $800,000 a month tax free”. I held my breath and turned my back to him as he sought sympathy from anyone in line. I wanted to scream at him but instead I held my breath.
The door had not even shut behind the older man who spoke of “that Mexican” when the customer behind me said “someone can’t be too happy about Obama’s election” and the rest of us laughed, nodded and smiled. I was no longer breathing as easilly as this morning but I was still breathing better than the day before. It would be foolish to just pretend that everything is okay now.
But, something happened here in America on November 4, 2008. None of us will ever be the same and we, our children and our grandchildren will be better off for it.