This morning as I was sitting in the auditorium at Jefferson Elementary School with hundreds of excited children, teachers, parents and friends, it was an amazing experience. I watched my children sitting in the audience while the whole Inaugural process unfolded on a big screen. Listening to all the children’s excited chatter validated that it was the only place I wanted to be on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration as our 44th President. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about how significant and amazing this victory was. Born and raised in Berkeley, CA I never thought I would see the day when an African American multicultural man would become the President of the United States. People think that Berkeley is this ultra liberal city and it certainly is today. It wasn’t like that when I grew up in the “flatlands”. Where immigrants and minorities were allowed to buy homes but “red lined” out of the prestigious properties in the Berkeley hills where only the non-minorities were allowed to live.
Yes, while I attended public schools I met and befriended children of all nationalities. However, I encountered a lot of racist comments. Labels like “Ching Chong Chinaman” and “slant eyes” were something that I was called. I’ll never forget the feelings of being labelled something demeaning or some one to be ridiculed and made fun of because of the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes. I learned to rise above those situations and to fight back. I vowed to educate people who made fun of us, not contribute to the dialogue of cultural racism.
When my twin boys were born 5-1/2 years ago, I had the stroke of luck to meet our nanny, Carolyn. She is an incredible woman who had been a nanny for decades and raised a number of children in several families. She is loving, affectionate and an important member of our family. My children only know and love her as their nanny. They don’t notice that she’s an African American because they only know her as Carolyn. They aren’t “color blind”, they just don’t think about the color of people’s skins as something important.
These are all the thoughts and images that flash through my mind as I watched Barack Obama proudly state his inaugural oath. What a glorious time to be alive and to see that we are all people…all united….and that deep down inside, it is about how we treat each other as human beings that truly counts.
It was wonderful watching the millions of people in Washington DC. But nothing could be more magical than to be with my children to share in their wonder and belief in seeing our new President Barack Obama being sworn in. They will grow up in a time when an African American will be their President, a woman will be their Secretary of State, the Cabinet members will be competent men & women who happen to come from all the different communities that make up our country. This is a moment to savor forever. Mable