Thank you, Mr. President

MarchaŠ Grair

Jan. 20, 2009, changed this nation forever. A new type of excitement loomed in the air that America has arguably never seen. A melting pot of different races, ages and beliefs flocked to Washington, D.C., to witness a moment some believed would never happen.

Welcome to the White House, President Barack Obama.

I believe in the equality for which this nation stands, but some pessimistic part of me thought I would never live to see the first black president. I did not know if this nation had the maturity to believe in someone who is so different from many history books’ skewed image of American leadership.

This moment in history is exhilarating for anyone who believed in President Obama’s vision of change and is especially touching for members of the black community. As an African-American, I cannot help but feel a new type of pride in a country that seemed to wear race relations as a heavy burden it could not shake.

The election of President Obama makes it feel as if equality in America can grow into more than rhetoric. Suddenly, a black child does not just have a promise that he can be anything – he has proof. I can tell my children about a black man who defied his critics, overlooked prejudice and made it to the Oval Office. I can tell my children about a man who used positive campaign tactics and the prospect of hope to minimize a factor so big, yet so small, as race.

President Obama’s move into office proves that racial differences are not impossible barriers and can be just as unifying now as they have proven divisive in the past. His Cabinet is debatably the most diverse in history, and his willingness to compromise with former rivals to strengthen his administration gives us all a lesson in humility.

We must ride this wave of enthusiasm to make a better America. It would be a terrible mistake for us to be inspired by President Obama’s election and let that inspiration settle into apathy. The grassroots effort that elected President Obama can evoke change in local and state governments. When people demand change from the government and take an interest in politics, the unthinkable can happen. A boy with a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya can grow into a man who is ready to help people believe in government again.

Racism will always exist, but the role we let it play in society can and will change. I believe in this nation again, and I believe it is ready to see a brighter day.

Thank you, Mr. President.

MarchaŠ Grair is a junior electronic media major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].