Brown Like Me: An Emotional Response to the Election of Barack Obama

First, I did not vote for Obama.  In fact, I voted for Ralph Nader.  I voted for national health care.  I voted for campaign finance reform.  I voted for the end of war.  I voted on issues that were important to me that I did not believe that Obama was addressing adequately.

That being said, I hoped that Obama would win.  In fact, I felt pretty comfortable that he would, so my vote for Nader was not an act of courage.

And when Obama won…

…I cried.

I got caught up in the history of the moment.

I thought about my son, mostly.  My son is black, and though I’m an idealist and I really believe that Tekoa can be anything he wants to be, adherance to my science forces me to be realistic.  I know the challenges that still remain for black children today.  I am sensitive to the veiled racism that became such a disheartening part of this campaign.  As a sociologist I’m aware that a subtle subtext of racism is often more pernicious than the overt.

But now I can raise my son in a world that has a black president…and that is something.

This morning, when I woke the kids up, I told the children that there was a new president.  Tekoa, who is almost seven, looked up from his bowl of Cheerios and said, “Barack Obama?”

I said, “Yes. Barack Obama is our new president.”

Tekoa smiled and responded, “He’s brown…like me.”

I choked back tears and said, “Yes.  He’s brown like you.”


My son, Tekoa


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