In the wake of this historic election there is a new story that many children will begin to hear from their parents, their schools, and the community from this morning.
It’s a story that tells them they really can be anything they want to be, even the President of the United States. They can point to the example of President-Elect Barack Obama as a resounding proof.
While I rejoice in the reaffirmation that any child can reach for the very highest office in these United States, I’m sobered by other consequences of this election season.
Other children are learning that much more ordinary goals remain bewilderingly beyond their reach. They won’t be able to marry the person they love and adopt children, they won’t be protected from bullying at school and hate crimes in the streets, they won’t be delivered the full measure of their citizenship promised in the constitution.
All because they are different.
Other children are finding out that their parents marriage is no longer legal, or that their parents wedding has been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. They are finding out that their parents can’t adopt them, they are learning once again that they are unequal and stigmatized.
All because their families are different.
So many children are hearing a reaffirmation of the American promise in the refrain “Yes, you can.”
But so many others are hearing the hollow sound of that promise denied to them in the echo “No, you can’t.”
Senator McCain invoked the turbulent racial history of America in his gracious concession speech:
“A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit -- to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.
America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States.
Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.”
It’s exhilarating to be reminded of the significance that this advance holds for black and biracial people in America, but the backbeat of this election is a harsh rebuke for a freshly minted citizen like me.
At the same time we are exhorted that this country is “a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time” and that there is “…no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth”, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are grappling with the freshened reality that they are still denied the full rights of citizenship by the cruel and prideful bigotry of this time.
While we celebrate the election of Barak Obama and the narrative that any child can become President of the United States, spare a thought for the children who are hearing louder than ever that simple things like falling in love, getting married, and having children are unacceptable and out of their reach.