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My aunt and cousins:  Omari, Nadira, Aunt Susan, Hadiya (from left to right)

I have three beautiful cousins who are being raised by their aunt in Florida. They’re African-American, two girls and one boy: Hadiya, Nadira, and Omari. I love them dearly – they’re amazing people. Some of you might remember my visit with them, where I stopped to see them on my way home from filming in the Dominican Republic in the spring.

The first night of my visit, we were all sitting on the porch eating a yummy dinner and Nadira, the youngest, asked who I was going to vote for: Hillary or Barak. All three of them said they were voting for Barak – and they were beaming when they said it.

Later that evening my aunt and I were talking after they’d gone to bed and she said, that it doesn’t matter so much who wins. What matters is that here are three children who are growing up thinking that it is normal for a woman and a black man to become president.

When I was a child in the 70s, we were still coming out of the Civil Rights Movement. Women’s Lib was the current phrase. People were fighting hard for basic rights. The Equal Rights Amendment didn’t even pass.

And here we are today, a woman ran for president. An African-American ran for president. And another woman ran for Vice President. And wow, our country has elected an African-American to become our new president. What a victory for tolerance, for diversity, for the American dream as our ancestors immigrated here hoping for a better life, for equal footing, for respect, and for the chance to be who they dream to be.

Impromptu Neighborhood Street Party on Broadway

The party grows and attracts local media

Hailing the bus!

Here are some pictures I took with my cell phone as Matt and I walked home from an election party on Tuesday night. This is the center of our neighborhood, on Broadway and Olive, just up the street from our house. Hundreds of people were dancing in the streets for hours. White, black, hispanic, gay and straight – all dancing together, celebrating diversity, celebrating hope, celebrating a new America.

We have come a long way. Here in Seattle, we voted to extend our new mass transit system. We voted for more parks. We voted to refurbish the aging downtown farmer’s market. Californians voted to extend animal rights. It was a good night to be an American.

In this neighborhood where I live, a large portion of the population is gay. And while we made great strides toward equal rights this week, we are not finished with this process. Three states voted for a ban on gay marriage. So we still have a long way to go.

But I am hopeful that we have come so far in my 35 years. I am hopeful that the children of my many gay friends will see great strides during their lifetime, that they will see tolerance grow, that they will experience the breadth of the American dream, as people of all types live here hoping for equal footing, for respect, and for the chance to be who they dream to be.

This week I am proud to be an American. Whoever you voted for on Tuesday, I hope you are proud too. Here’s to increased tolerance, to extended mass transit, to more parks, to improved farmer’s markets, to animal’s rights, to diversity, to respect, and to a wonderfully improving America!

Update: Just found this video of our neighborhood party…

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17 comments to Reflections

  • It was such a monumental and historic election. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s perspective on it all. Looks like lots of happy people in the video.

  • This is an amazing place in time to be right now. Still… we are more than a little disturbed about a state that would vote for more rights for animals and fewer rights for the gay & lesbian couples. As a looooong time gay activist, our right starts again today even while we celebrate the truly amazing stride our country and the world has taken.

  • i love love love an election. nothing beats seeing people getting excited and emotional about the process of Democracy.

  • A beautiful new day… but the prop 8 deal in cali is disconcerting.

  • My most feverent wish for the U.S. is that your newly elected president’s strength of vision can pull the entire populace together to dream a different future and help them to use their courage to walk the less used path.

    Good Luck and Best Wishes

  • I cried when they announced that Barak won. It was such an amazing, thrilling moment.
    On Wednesday morning I surfed a few overseas websites to see non-American reactions. It was so exciting to see how the election of an African American person as our president could galvanize the world.
    Maybe we can be proud to say we are Americans now…for far too long I have apologized for being an American (to my n/a friends). n/a = non-American hehe.

    Yay for Barak.
    Yay for us.

  • Melinda,

    Here in Northern Ontario I stayed up ’til the wee hours watching the BBC coverage via the net. It was an amazing night, watching the results come in, while talking to my relatives in Cali as well as other Canadian friends. There are polls here saying that anywhere between 60-80% of Canucks would have voted for Obama if given the chance.

    As well, myself and others were sadden by the passing of Prop 8, not only in Cali, but in Arizona and Florida.

    What Obama will do for Canadian relations I can only hope for good things.



  • I’m kind of with Shibaguyz. I’m disappointed about California. And I’m disappointed in myself. Could I have done more? I hadn’t realized the race was going to be close — after all, I’m not there to see what’s going on. So frustrating.

    I am proud though, that our 44th president will be Barack Obama. It is amazing. But, let’s not get complacent in our own efforts. He’s not a superhero. We’ve got the Green Phone Booth for that. ;)

  • Cheers to that, Melinda.

    We do have some work to do here in California, and I’ll now do anything in my power as an advocate of equal rights.

  • I was most impressed when our president elect said that he was going to listen most carefully to the public when they disagree with his decisions. If true, what a refreshing change that will be!

    And if he does pick RFK jr. for the EPA chair as the rumor would have it, then we can hold a second celebration.

    As for the racial issue, my satisfaction with this moment is quite similar to your Aunt’s

    And for the gay equal rights, a new president will ensure that the supreme court does not get stacked with a bunch of moonbats.

  • SusanB

    My take away from this election had a lot to do with my nieces and nephews, ages 13-6. They are growing up in a world where women and minorities sit on the Supreme Court, where a woman is Speaker of the House, where a woman has been a serious presidential contender on a nationwide scale and been a major party VP canidate, where an African American with international roots has been elected president, where women and minorities are governors, mayors and hold major legal offices in many states and cities, where women and minorities have held some of the most important cabinet positions, where entertainment media almost predictably chooses women and minorities to play presidents, prosecutors, judges and other prominent public personages. All of this in and of itself makes the country , in terms of who thinks they can do what when they are growing up, a truly different place. This really comes home when I think about things I was told and experienced growing up in the 60′s and 70′s.
    That’s not to say the battle for equal rights is over — I make my living representing workers who have been discriminated against.

  • Di

    I went to bed happy Tuesday night, then woke up Weds am to the news that prop 8 passed and it was a downer on an otherwise hopeful future. I can’t believe California has so much hate!
    Most who voted yes did so because they were totally misinformed and lied to by the yes group. They were underhand, and outright lied to voters.
    The battle for equality is not over. This is the NOT the last we’ll hear of this. Equality for ALL!

  • This election was a major triumph for democracy. We have shown how much we have grown as a nation by electing an African American to office on the platform of positive and peaceful change. Here in my local state of Missouri, we voted in a democratic governor, we voted for expanded home health care for seniors, and we voted for a renewable energy standard. I never thought I would see an African American president in my life, or the typically conservative state of Missouri voting for progressive change. Now me must start the hard work – actually getting them to follow through on their promises and molding our democracy into a better place.

  • Tina, A lot of happy people – estimates are that between our neighborhood party and one downtown, there were 3,500 people dancing in the streets! Monumental, barrier-breaking, and historic – you’re right.

    Shibaguyz, I am incredibly saddened by the lack of understanding, compassion, and all out egalitarian thought as people marked those ballots. It tempers my enthusiasm. How can we be going the right way with racial relations but the wrong way with gay and lesbian relations? I truly hope that times will change as they did for racial justice.

    Kelly, Hear hear!

    Julie, I agree.

    Belinda, That’s a great wish. We all have high hopes. It will not be easy to dig out of the mess that has been made over the last 8 years (and more) – it is deep and difficult. But I am energized by the fact that we as a country have hope, have excitement – that is a very good start!

    Heather, I cried too. Wow, it was an emotional time!

    Maggie, I wonder how much of the rest of the world was watching that night… and how many eyes are now on Obama, to do great things. Cheers to the possibility!

    Stephanie, We have a long way to go, we have a lot to do – you are right!! I’m disappointed about California, and Arizona and Florida too. It is truly a shame, and I hope there is a way to reverse the damage. We all must become superheroes!

    Katie, Excellent! I will do what I can from here!

    Kory, The Supreme Court nominations will be crucial, you are right. RFK Jr. will be a welcome help. I just read his intro in Green Collar Economy – what a smart man!!

    “After last night I wonder if I should stop worrying about how [my children] will fit into the world and start teaching them to change the world.” What a powerful thing you have written.

    SusanB, This is beautiful, isn’t it? We have come a long way in our lifetimes. We have a long way to go, but there is cause to celebrate how far we’ve come!

    Di, I agree: equality must be had by all.

    Jennifer, That’s great that MO voted for all these things – I had no idea. Congratulations! Progress in the right direction. Awesome.

    Chile, You are so kind – thank you!!!!

  • We have to consider that it’s taken us fifty years of fighting for equal rights for African-Americans to get where we are today. It’s going to take a lot more time and determination to see the same results for civil rights for gay Americans.

    Let’s just not drop the ball and keep it moving forward!

    I too have been feeling pride for my country this past week and it’s something I haven’t felt in a long time.

    Hope is priceless.

  • Angelina, Great points. We must keep moving forward, indeed!! Hope is so incredibly important, I agree.

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