Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A New Sense of Patriotism

Quote of the day goes to Melissa from Shakesville:

[Obama's race] matters.

In a big fucking way.

Not just to people of color who are vulnerable, who were targeted or abandoned by the Bush administration, but to all people of color, the daughters and sons of wealth who are told they can be anything they want but have known it's not quite true. It matters to them. And it matters to white racists (though they don't know it yet, or care), and it matters to white allies of people of color, all of whom need and want to see a person of color leading this diverse nation at long last.

(emphasis mine)

I finally feel patriotic. And that is a really big deal to me.

I wasn't born in America. My family immigrated here from Russia as soon as the transitioning Russian government opened it's doors to Jews. We needed to get the hell out of there, asap. So we came here, to the land of opportunity. And until i knew better, that is exactly how I, a 7 year old foreign kid standing in Walmart surrounded by aisles of Barbies and Tonka Trucks, saw America. My parents are Republicans. My father listens to, and quotes daily, Right-Wing Radio. I was indoctrinated with "what America means" and the "opportunity i have been given" ever since i came to this country. I am not ungrateful. I realized then and realize now how lucky my brother and i were to grow up in America. But i also quickly realized what that actually meant as soon as i went to college. I stopped kidding myself about being a Republican, took up Women's Studies, and snapped out of the idealistic notion of a country i quickly realized was a sham.

Don't call me ungrateful. Just listen.

I finally saw America for what is was: racist, homophobic, classist, materialistic, wasteful, hateful, ageist, ableist, and unjust. Lead by "elected" official after elected official who looked exactly the same (and quite frankly, made the exact same decisions that were as progressive as my pinky toe.) They didn't represent me and didn't represent the America i grew to know, study, and slowly understand.

Fine, call me jaded. Call me an Anarchist, a radical, a communist, whatever. I am only being realistic in what i saw once i opened my eyes and finally started critically thinking about this land of opportunity that my parents brought me up to appreciate. If my dad reads this he'll probably disown me, or roll his eyes like he does on a regular basis when these topics come up.

Here's the truth: America was and is an incredible opportunity for my brother and me. We're white. We're Jewish. We had a strong support network as soon as we stepped foot in JFK Airport. Not all immigrants are that privileged. My dad will say, "if they just worked as hard as we did," "if they just stopped being lazy," "if they just get off well fare and find jobs," "if they, if they, if they." No. Stop. There is no fucking they. There is us and we are all one nation. My family was incredibly privileged. Many people are not as lucky as we were/are. Yes, what my parents did was amazing and i'm not downplaying their achievements (they just bought their first house last year!) all i'm saying is they did it with a lot of support, privilege, and opportunity that not everyone is granted.

So this long introduction brings me to my post:

Thanks to Obama, I finally feel patriotic. I finally feel hopeful. I finally identify with the America i always thought it could be. The America i saw before i learned to see it with a critical eye. The America i am hopeful it will slowly but surely become.

I'm finally patriotic because there will be a president soon that is representative of our nation. One whose platform is based on issues that I care about. One who works towards peace, justice, and equality. One who values collaboration. One who is progressive and a forward thinker. One who realizes the importance of comprehensive sex education. One who values diversity. One who understands class issues and America's impact on the global economy. One who supports Roe v. Wade. One who won't leave a child behind and is committed -truly committed- to education. One who believes love makes a family. One who understands the need for energy independence. One who's ethical. One who's unafraid to tackle serious issues like health care and immigration. One who stands strong with Israel. One who has a plan to bring our troops home from Iraq. One who's been a "lifelong advocate for the poor." And especially, i'll repeat, one who represents our nation. Not just because he is a person of color or mixed race (though I can't deny that his skin has a lot to do with it) but also because of all the hope, change, and opportunity that he represents.

When Obama is elected president i will finally no longer be embarrassed to let people know i am an American when i travel.

So thanks, Obama, for instilling a new sense of patriotism and hope in me.


La Pobre Habladora said...

"'if they, if they, if they.' No. Stop. There is no fucking they. There is us and we are all one nation."

Seriously, my eyes just teared-up reading this. Tks.

Sarah J said...


love this. you rule.

Lindsay said...

This has repercussions not only in our own country, but outside it as well. It'll literally be a new face for foreign policy and that's going to make a big difference to kids growing up in Africa and the Middle East - to see someone who looks like them running the most powerful country in the world.

Think about how much has changed from 2000 when Lieberman was running for VP. We thought, "there might be a Jewish president some day."

phd in yogurtry said...

It will only be perfect if (when) the end of W's term is punctuated with a president who personifies hope for all underrepresented Americans.

ah shit, its been a LONG 8 years.

Janessa said...

I've tried and tried to explain to family and friends why I'm as enthusiastic about Obama as I am, but I've never been able to do it in such a perfect way. From now on I'll just hand them a print-out of your post.

"I'm finally patriotic because there will be a president soon that is representative of our nation. One whose...One who...One who..."


FeministGal said...

La Pobre Habladora & Sarah, thank you ladies :) your kind words always make my day! :)

Lindsay, yes i agree - i also think the next president will have a hell of a job cleaning up our image outside our own country. And i think Obama is up to that :)

phd in yogurtry, YES IT HAS! :)

Janessa, welcome to my blog :) Thank you for your kind words and i can absolute relate to having a hard time explaining this. i take it so personally now when people don't understand, because it IS so personal at this point. And i too am now extremely enthusiastic :)

countrygirlcityliving said...

I cannot believe I am just now reading this. What a beautiful, emotional and freakin amazing post. And thank goodness that we live in a country (however fucked up it may be) where you can have these gripes publicly. It's not perfect, far from it, but hopefully in time it will get better. I disagree that Obama is the panacea to our country's problems, but I'm willing to let him try.
Love you G, and think you are a rockstar.

Bianca Reagan said...

Yes, it is a sham. President Obama would be a step in the right direction, but that still leaves the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, the Governors' seats, and most of the legislators and the powerholders in the United States in need of a serious overhaul. This isn't "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Thank you for recognizing your privilege and talking about it! :)

Anonymous said...

Simply amazing. And stop lying, you don't really have a brother.