This morning as Mike Barnicle and Joe Scarborough marveled at how “color disappeared as an issue” as the election grew nearer, guest John Ridley sat shaking his head and intoned a phrase that should be the title of a book about this election. Race did not take a vacation. There’s this meme out there that pretends that the color of Barack Obama’s skin played no role in this election – or worse, that it played only a positive role. I can only guess that those making statements like that haven’t been speaking with anyone but each other.

No, race did not take a vacation when people can still refer to Barak Obama as “exotic” – because, as Scarborough said, “His name is Barak Obama, not Jim Smith.” To which Ridley responded, “Barak Obama is not an exotic name in my sister’s neighborhood.” Which echoed what I had just shouted at the television – it’s not an exotic name in my neighborhood either – heck, my next door neighbors are named Malik and Trudell – double-heck, my NEPHEW is named Khalil.

Race did not take a vacation when the endorsement of a man as highly respected across the board as Colin Powell is discounted as “a black man endorsing a black man – where’s the surprise in that?” It’s definitely not taking a vacation in Hawaii when the talking heads spend half their time marveling how little race mattered in this election, or opining that race “helped” Barack Obama, or assigned credit for Obama’s win to “all those liberal white kids who were thrilled to be part of a historic moment”. Did you vote to be a part of history?

I’ve got a confession to make. I voted for Barack Obama to be a part of a historic moment – but not the one that most people believe. I did not vote for Barack Obama as a black man – that honestly made no difference to me at all. I voted for a man who is like me – a practical idealist who sees the world as more than black and white, who appreciates nuance and believes in the power of every single person. The pundits and talking heads have waxed poetic about the huge turnout of young people who delivered the election for Obama – but that’s not even part of the story. What I saw was a huge outpouring of people in MY age group, in my little pocket of the generation gap, we who inherited the desire to make a change in the world around us just as the world smugly decided that it had changed just enough, thank you very much. Obama campaigned on a mantra of change and challenge – he called on people to step up and take responsibility and take action.

I voted for hope. I voted for responsibility.  I voted for a man who stepped above those who tried to cover him with mud and refused to throw mud back. I voted for a thinking man, a listening man, a man who believes – not in compromise but in melding opposing viewpoints into a cohesive direction. I voted for a community organizer who believes that the people deserve better than they dare to hope for – they deserve to have their needs met.

And I voted AGAINST an ugly racist campaign that maligned everything in which I believe. To say that race played no part – or worse, that race only helped Obama – is beyond disingenuous. It’s malignant. That bigots dare to say Barak Obama was elected BECAUSE he was black is repugnant.

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