The New Us

Obama believed in us. Then we believed in ourselves.


After months of watching Anderson Cooper, Campbell Brown, David Gergen and Jeffrey Toobin on CNN, after laughing and crying through many a Facebook chat with some of the smartest (and most fabulous) black and multiracial women in the world, after pouring my heart, mind and soul into blog posts on The Root, the Huffington Post and my own blog, twitting hundreds of pro-Obama tweets on Twitter, and scrolling through and responding to thousands of e-mails about Election 2008 on my BlackBerry, I can finally stop for a second.

And breathe.

The election wasn’t stolen. Our candidate is alive. We showed up, changed the world and plan to get up tomorrow and do it again. Soon after the results were announced, President-elect Barack Obama sent his supporters an e-mail requesting our suggestions on public policy. True to form, he expects our input to begin now.

Such is the nature of change. It’s a long time coming, but when it gets here, you’d better be ready. The last time I was in London, some friends told me Obama would never win because it would mean Europe, too, would have to change, “and,” they said, shaking their heads in the back of a taxi, “that will never, ever happen.”

As we breathe today, we must also accept that this is a different world, in many ways, than the one we thought we were living in.

This election showed us how far we were from true leadership. How far we were from being inspired by our government. How far we were from feeling connected to our friends around the world. It showed us how mired in cynicism we had become. How futility had seeped in and infected our very sinew. And then, when we saw how far we were from our potential, Obama showed us how powerful we could become.

And we began to fight in earnest.

Because our leaders had failed us, and the market did not police itself. Because identity politics proved too political. Because our streets, patrolled by minutemen determined to keep “illegals” from minimum-wage jobs, are no longer paved with gold. Because we have been demoted from liberator to occupier in the eyes of the world.

Because too many of us are sleeping in cars and waiting to be seen by doctors in traveling medical clinics. Because people are being thrown out of homes in the face of overwhelming debt. Because tent cities, the kind we’ve seen in news reports from Third World nations, are cropping up in cities around the country.