People feared riots if Barack Obama somehow lost; instead we got an explosion of love.
They were dancing on Sistrunk Boulevard last night. Exuberant black men and women waving at and high-fiving white motorists, giddy with victory. No wonder. Let's put this in some type of perspective.
The Emancipation Proclamation. Brown v. Board of Education. The Dream Speech. President Barack Obama.
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts this morning describes the Obama victory as an "intoxicating thought almost too wonderful for thinking." And he writes of the promise of a race continually denied: "There was something in it that was hard to take, knowing that we have loved America when America did not love us, defended America when it would not defend us, believed in American ideals that were larger than skies, yet never large enough to include us."
I know most white people don't like to hear this stuff (just read the comments under Pitts' column). They believe this is a solved argument, as if to say, "Okay, we made a mistake, we did wrong, but it was years ago. Get over it!"
And there is no doubt that black communities bear part of the blame for their continuing troubles. Bill Cosby is right. But the thing is you don't just get over a few centuries worth of slavery, segregation, and pervasive racism that easily. It's in your body, in your heart, in your mind, in your very DNA. And anyone who says that racism isn't a powerful force in America anymore is living an illusion or a lie. I live in Plantation, a place built on the notion of suburban segregation and named sentimentally for southern slave farms. I hear it, but I also see the face of the city changing, and with the slow drip of time the old bigotry is dying.
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Obama and the American electorate yesterday accelerated the change by a light year. And we're all going to be better for it.
-- And yet yesterday was also a day of shame that shows institutional hatred and exclusion is alive. Florida passed Amendment 2 to ban gay marriage in the state. "Democratic" Broward County voted for the ban by a 52-48 margin. What? You come out in droves to elect a black man as president but while you're at it you throw our gay brothers and sisters under the bus? Nice job. I wrote last night that this shows that the county, while it's heavily democratic in party, isn't anymore progressive than Tampa. It's all about venal politics and power here and don't forget it.
-- Obama's coattails also weren't long enough for Scott Israel. Election night was rather tortuous for Israel, Judy Miller, and rest of his team. They were up solidly for much of the night, to the point where they were surely counting their chickens. Then the numbers turned suddenly for Al Lamberti as the counting went from condos to suburbs and Republican-rich coastal areas. Lamberti wakes up this morning to the sweetest election of all.
Read some sensational scenes from Election Night in Broward County here.