Obama win a lesson for all races

Published 1:02 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It is less than a week until the inauguration of the President of the United States of America. Even if Barack Obama was not a voter’s candidate of choice, no one can argue that everyone living in this country is about to witness an historical event.

As I think about the feelings that swept the nation with the realization that we elected the first African-American president, I hope this inauguration ushers in more than a change in leadership.

While the black community feels pride at the choice of this man as the leader of the country, they, indeed all of us, should remember he is by virtue of birth an equal member of the white community. And could there be a more perfect person to bridge the racial divide and bring to fruition the work of so many who wanted the dream of a united country to come true?

Of course, for this to become a reality requires a shift in thinking and attitude on the part of all of us. Racism is not just a plague of Caucasians. It is an equal opportunity belief that touches all groups of people, no matter the color of their skin, their religious preference or their cultural heritage.

The belief that my group is better, superior or deserves more attention than your group is a belief we should lay to rest once and for all. With this election, we showed Americans will and did judge a man by his character not the color of his skin.

Now it is time to embrace true equality. That means we let go of being separate in our thoughts, our actions and even our organizations, and this is true for all the races that call America home.

It is fine to honor and to acknowledge the things that make us unique. There is a place for remembering our history; the struggles and challenges that brought a group of people to this point in time.

However, allowing those memories to segregate us must end. It is time to take the next step and remove labels that identify us as different. It is time celebrate being American, not African-American, Asian-American, Native-American or any of the other distinctions we make.

If we want a future where we live in unity, we must show and teach our children the ways of unity. Anything advertised as exclusively for one race or one group sends the wrong message to young minds. It says only certain people are part of this, and can participate and belong.

Our country, indeed our world, is much smaller these days. We communicate across the miles as fast as our fingers can type. Technology is breaking down barriers and allowing humans to connect in ways our ancestors could not imagine.

So now we stand at a crossroads with a unique opportunity to show the world we practice the words written by our forefathers, to demonstrate we are truly a nation that believes all men are equal.

That takes dropping our ideas about each other’s differences and focusing on how we are alike. It demands we let go of the past. Not that we forget the past because we learn from the lessons of our history, but that we let go of the emotions of the past that bring nothing to the hope of our future. We must make this choice because now more than ever, we face challenges that require a unified effort if we are to move past them.

Next Tuesday we will witness history. As Americans we have a chance to write the next chapter of that history. Hopefully, it will be one that records the time when we put aside our differences and became a truly united America.