99.9 percent of the time, “making history” is bullshit.
A team wins the World Seriesâ€”an event that takes place annuallyâ€”and it “makes history.”
Someone climbs a very large mountain, and he “makes history.”
Entertainment Tonight launches HD programing, and it “makes history.”
Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Tonight, history is actually made. The first African-American major presidential candidate. Amazing. Truly, truly amazing. I grew up in a town whereâ€”20 years agoâ€”this idea would have been laughed at. Forget the two crosses burning in my friend’s front yard or the casualness with which many of my classmates used the n-word. Forget the neighbor who once complained of “all the city people” moving into our area. What we had back then was a far-reaching and highly addictive mistrust of black people. They were the ones from the city; the ones of welfare; the ones who stole; the ones who wanted to sleep with our women; the ones who just weren’t as smart … as hard working … as decent. That was the attitude of many people I knew, whoâ€”based on ignorance, I believe, not true hatredâ€”refused to open their minds and hearts to black Americans. When I was a kid, I had a huuuuge crush on Whitney Houston (pre-Bobby days), and I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “She’s pretty good lookingâ€”for a black girl.” Again, not mean-spirited. Just naive and sheltered.
So tonight, the idea that my old neighbors and friends will be watching Barack Obama accept the nominationâ€”and that some of them might even vote for himâ€”brings me much joy.Â
People tend to say of others, “Oh, he’ll never change” or “She’ll never change,” and it’s pure, 100 percent garbage. People do changeâ€”with exposure and experience. It happened with African-Americans, and it’s in the process of happening with gay Americans. Hatred is powerful and strong, but it’s not omnipotent.
In the end, I believe what we strive for, sometimes in spite of ourselves, is unity.