I have always held in this race that while of course we shouldn’t vote for a presidential candidate based on something as skin deep as skin color, that nonetheless all things being equal in terms of character, temperament, policy proposals, principles, and priorities, that there is a crucial psychological bonus to having a black president. It is simply of too inestimable a value to send the message to the youth of America and around the world about what kind of a country we live in.
This great article is about an early fruit of this impact:
As I’ve considered Sen. Obama’s accomplishment, I’ve determined the most profound impact he’s had — not considering the possibility of him becoming president and proving to be one of our better ones — is on our future more than our present or our history.
I didn’t grasp that until I took my 2-year-old to the doctor last week and he took a vision exam. It was through young Alexander’s eyes that I saw how important this moment in time could be.
The nurse administering the exam pointed to different shapes and images on a chart, asking Alexander to identify each. One of the recurring images was that of a flag. It wasn’t an American flag, but a flag just the same.
To a 2-year-old, a flag is a flag, right? Alexander is most familiar with the U.S. flag. When the nurse pointed to the flag, he answered confidently.
“Barack Obama,” he said, pronouncing it as best as a 2-year-old could.
“What did you say?” she asked.
As she went through the chart, she once again came to the flag.
“Do you know what he’s saying?” I asked her.
“He’s saying Barack Obama.” Why? Because he was making an association. Most times when he’s seen Sen. Obama on TV, the Democratic nominee has been standing in front of the U.S. flag.
Whether Sen. Obama wins the presidency or not, he has had an untold effect on the future and psyche of America.
My son will live a lifetime in which he knows an African-American can ascend to the highest levels in this country. He won’t think it odd for a black man to seek to lead a nation. He as well as many white, Asian, Hispanic and other children, whether they like the candidate or not, won’t think it odd or a novelty to see a black man standing in front of the American flag — the ultimate display of patriotism, despite misguided and mean-spirited efforts to paint Sen. Obama as being otherwise — articulating his concerns and love for his country.
Because of Barack Obama, many of our children won’t grow up with as many of the psychological bruises those before them might have endured.
I grew up being told that I could one day be president. But much of what I saw and heard suggested otherwise. I saw and experienced the discrimination. Blacks only secured the right to vote in my lifetime. I saw many black kids in school being steered away from advanced courses and training that would have prepared them to shoot for higher goals.
Not only does Sen. Obama’s feat help shape a 2-year-old’s thoughts about himself and the world around him, but it affects so many others, from high-schoolers to college students to older folks.