Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dispatches from France re: The Election

When I was 16 years old, I lived in France for a year as an exchange student. I kept in touch with my family and visited them again during the Summer of 2007 (see prior blog posts here). My American family is very conservative (as in Fox-News-Watching, Rush Limbaugh Loving, Armed and Dangerous Conservative) so it is a comfort to me to at least have one set of parents that are aligned with my desire for social justice in the world.

In the past two days, I have received the following message from my French sister-in-law, Marie-Helene, who is married to my brother, Olivier:

Yesterday morning I cried but my tears were full of wishes.
I am very happy for you and your country .

And the following message titled "America is back!" from my French brother-in-law, Bernard, who is married to my French sister, Pascale:

hi dear roxane !
congratulation for this victory !
obama is elected , fantastic !!!
really that's great for your country and your people , you are a great people indeed !
forget mister busch and now with obama god bless america

bernard , pascale and sons

By contrast, my naturalized American mother, who was born and raised in Cairo, emailed me a quote by George Washington about good rising out of despair. I think she's trying to console herself after the Republicans' defeat. I can understand how she feels as I cried for months following the election of 2004.

I also feel like telling her she's right in a way, that a black man had a chance of being elected President in America because the last white man with the job bungled it so badly. I hate to say it, but I think America is still racist enough that if Barack Obama was running against Bill Clinton in 2000, that I don't think he would have had a shot. This truly was good rising from despair. Our country has taken a great leap forward, although there is still work to do for true equality.

Nonetheless, I'm extending my American family the courtesy they never extended me in the past eight years. I'm not gloating to them about this fantastic win. I'm just quietly celebrating with my French family and happily thinking about what's possible for America's future.

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