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Thank you, America!

by Christopher Harbin

My family has never been very political. As the typical dysfunctional white suburban family, we’ve been trained from birth to internalize divisive feelings so that the status quo can always be maintained. To this day, I don’t know my parents’ political views. Politics were simply never talked about.

This all changed when a member of my extended family with whom I am very close revealed that they would be voting for John McCain. I should have known better, but I decided to press them on the motivations behind their choice. It was simple – John McCain is white.

It’s really not that simple, however. It wasn’t just that McCain is white, but rather that Obama is black. I was blown away. This came as a complete shock to me as my family has never exhibited one grain of racism. Ever. Further, my family member identifies as a Democrat and they admit that the vote that best advances their self interest would be a vote for Obama. But, he’s black.

I was embarrassed, shocked, and disgusted. I tried to rationalize their motivations by considering that they were raised in the deep South almost 60 years ago. However, I can’t help but feel that our immense disagreement on this issue will create a lasting divide between someone I care and love so much. I really tried everything I could to make them at least reconsider. I know for a fact today that one vote cast in this election was due to pure racism and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.

Tonight, this nation proclaimed in its loudest voice that we won’t tolerate this bigotry any longer. This election was not just a victory, but a mandate that each of us should be able to accomplish anything we put our minds to. We elected the smartest guy in the room and the candidate that will best see our country though difficult times.

Tonight could be the defining moment of my generation. With my family, I’ve vowed to break the spiral of silence. Tonight is certain to be one of the political moments that I will enjoy discussing with my children. Thank you, America.

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