Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.

The next day of the rest of our lives…
2008/11/05, 22:19
Filed under: Politics, Thoughts

I’ve normally tried to keep my political opinions from being a focus on here, but I just wanted to let out a few feelings and thoughts.

First of all, the presidential election last night was just amazing.  My roommate and I cried.  Whether some are willing to admit it or not, IT IS SUCH A HUGE, MOMENTOUS OCCASION and will go down in history.  It is one of the greatest and brightest points in human history, and that’s NOT just my opinion.

Personally, I’ve been an American overseas, and much of what this essay on Yahoo says, I have dealt with first hand.  Countless times in my travels abroad (totaling about 6 months, including a semester abroad) I found myself having to defend myself for being American, apologize for our politics, and explain what people are really like over here.  I also had to defend myself saying that I am American, despite my last name, despite my skin tone, and despite my hair, eyes, cheeks, etc…everything that isn’t a part of the ideal “image” of what an American is.

When I first went abroad, I was to be honest, embarrassed of being an American.  I did not identify with those who constantly categorized me as something other than “American”.  I was embarrassed of the greed, of the obnoxious stereotypical attitude, of the consumer, capitalistic, material culture.  I was ashamed and did not identify with the “Super-sizing” of everything, and the gluttonous, excessive, wasteful habits that I have seen everywhere from peers to how places like grocery stores and restaurants operate.  I was annoyed and angry about the flat out ignorance of so many people (even those who were studying abroad to be “cultural ambassadors” and thought Ecuador was in Africa…)…an ignorance that stemmed from a disinterest in something outside of their shiny little bubbles.  I especially was frustrated that so many students studied abroad to party and be the loud, demanding, obnoxious American in the subways or on the streets, wearing flip flops in the cold or wearing torn Abercrombie jeans, and having NO CONTROL over themselves when drinking or partying (all of which the Spanish made fun of them for, yet because they refused to try and learn Spanish and consistently were belting English every where they went, they never realized it).

However, while I was in Spain, I began to realize what I loved so much about being American.  The hospitable and charitable attitudes of so many.  Rooting for the underdog.  Believing we can make a difference or a change.  The roles that family and friends have in our lives.  It’s not that I hated America, I realized, it’s that I foresaw, I dreamed, of its potential.  I knew America could do better, and had such untapped opportunities and talents of people that it frustrated me to no end.  I knew we were not all dumb, so why was this image portrayed and perpetuated by some so much?

Barack and Michelle Obama were never for me, a terrorist or anti-American, they are those who saw something better for this country.  They are those who look outside of the box, who are able to reflect, and had experiences that weren’t limited to their town, county, region of the country, or even their socio-economic status.  They are those who believe in the change and possibilities that I have believed in since middle school, perhaps earlier.  They are those who, even though they might not be perfect, and even though change will not happen overnight or in a term or two, will still try and still dream.

Dreams are like stars…you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.

And one other thought…

So much of the media has made this a “Black vs White” election, even though I feel the candidates did a decent job at not succumbing to that level. — By the way, I liked John McCain a lot back in 2000, and at first was pretty comfortable with him being a candidate this time.  I did feel he changed a lot in the last eight years (to my disliking) though, and this was something that was confirmed and explained very well on a PBS special I saw a couple weeks ago. —

Now the media is focusing on how Blacks and African Americans are responding to this historic election.  As someone who is multi-racial, I’d like to agree that I feel much of what the Blacks and African Americans are feeling right now.

Obama is half white and half black, much like I’m Mexican and Italian/English (among other things).  When I look at him, I don’t see just a black man.  I see someone who is a variety much like me, someone who is American and has been accused of not being American, much like I’ve dealt with since I was in first grade.  I remember growing up and being turned off from history class, because I did not feel those we learned about ever reflected what anyone like myself (female, multi-racial, or even not “white”) could do.  I felt as if someone like myself could never do anything like be president, much like many African Americans have stated their parents said they could do “anything but be president,” or some said “they don’t let people like you do things like that, you’ll work in the post office.”  My historical idol growing up was Pocahontas.  Not because I romanticized her or the Native Americans as a fourth grader, but because she was the only brunette female I felt like I could identify with in the historical textbooks.  She was my one shred of hope that someone like me could one day be important and not be ignored from the versions of history taught in textbooks and classes.  I remember staring at the painted portrait of her, and just thinking “wow,” and feeling something my words could have never described at the age of 10.

When I look at our new Mr. President, Barack Obama, I see less limitations on myself, and I am able to look up to someone like myself for the first time.  Someone that confirms that I am American, that I exist, and that I will not be ignored, and the beautiful thing about it is that he means that to millions of other people, even billions, around the world.

It is a sobering experience, and it continues to bring tears to my eyes.

On that note, I’m off to buy a newspaper and begin my first full day in this new chapter of history.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. Wandering by lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams. World losers and world forsakers, for whom the pale moon gleams. Yet we are movers and the shakers of the world forever it seems.


2008/11/04, 17:08
Filed under: Politics

I have a ton to write about this week!  I’ll work backwards a bit, however, beginning with voting today, and later posting some pictures from Día de Los Muertos in Santa Ana.

Due to a foreign language exam, my day was exceptionally long today…10am-6pm NO BREAKS between exam, class, and seminar.  I figured, the best time to go would be early.  I woke up the earliest I’ve had to since I was teaching (on 4.5 hours of sleep, mind you).  I left the house around 6:20am, and walked to the polling site.  ~6:30am arrival…thirty minutes early for the opening, as I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing how the only other election I’ve been able to vote in, I used an absentee balot.

By 6:45am, the line was almost a block in the neighborhood.  It had the energy of 3am black Friday mall shopping…waiting for tickets to a concert (like when Billy Joel and Elton John came to Syracuse)…or even when I went to the Price is Right a few years ago!  There was so much of this energy with everyone, but it had this added weight of significance to it.  It was slightly intoxicating…better than a cup ‘o Joe.

A woman in the line with me was telling me she had been voting here for over 30 years, and there was NEVER a line, rather, two or three other voters at a time, MAYBE if you went when it was busy.

By 7:22am, the line had begun to go around the curb.  Judging by the distance of where I stood and the twenty minutes it took me to get through the line once the polls opened, it looked like the wait would be anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

I wasn’t the only one taking pictures though, plenty of people were taking shots on their cell phones (I was nerdy and intentionally brought my camera…I’m completely fine with the featureless, free cell phones that I get with Verizon’s two year plans!)

Anyways, off to my language exam, and FREE BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM with Tara tonight because I voted 🙂