RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Once deferred, a dream’s coming true

I am giddy with good feelings about the election that was held this past year. My friend Jim kept insisting that the statistician Nate Silver was predicting a big win for President Barack Obama, but it was hard to believe that the white majority in our country was going to give enough support to make him the winner. To me, it is impossible to overestimate the symbolism of giving a black man another four years as our president. You might think that I am exaggerating the role of race in our elections, but the kinds of attacks that this man has had to endure while being president is a sign that a large group of people do not accept him as an American, as being one of us. The birther movement is a shameful thing, and the movement of groups to secede from the country shows how far some are willing to go to exhibit their unwillingness to accept Obama. This would never have happened with a white president.

There were real obstacles in Obama’s way to the second term, like the shaky economy and the general insecurity in our lives. People are inclined to look for someone to blame in precarious times, and the presidency is one place where one could fix blame. We all share the frustration of knowing that some people seem to be getting away with their bad behavior in the financial sector, and we’re told that not enough has changed to insure that it won’t happen again.

But what the analysis seems to show is that, rather than fall into despair and cynicism, people went out to vote, standing in line for hours, in the face of storm disasters and other obstacles. So obviously, many whites voted for Obama, and the most heartening sign of progress in this country were those statistics showing that minorities and gays came out so strongly for Obama, and in some cases, determined outcomes in the final tallies. We’re obviously moving in the direction of a multicolored, multicultural society, and angry old white men are not going to be able to stop this trend. The makeup of congress is also changing, and based on the legislation that comes up for votes, we’ll see which issues gain priority and which congresspersons support them.

It has always been a dream of mine that coalitions of minorities would lead to progress toward a more just and equitable society, and it is beginning to look like this could happen. As voting blocks, we are not going to see eye to eye on everything, and we might have strong disagreements, but I think that there is common ground, that there are many issues that we can work on, with the common good being the base that unites us. We can all be for better education, for better health care, for immigration reform, for more equality in the justice system, for infrastructure repair, dealing with global warming, etc. In fact, these are issues that some old white men might feel are of value to them also.

I know that as a group, Nikkei don’t have a particularly good record regarding racial matters. In my childhood, Mexicans were considered lower class members, and generally, other people of color were not really considered equals. In my youth, many Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans had hostile feelings toward each other, a result of the long war between China and Japan. From what I understand, Koreans are particularly discriminated against in Japan.

One of the many benefits of being an American is that we can throw off the prejudices of the older generations and not let old enmities divide us. And I think that we can all be individuals with our cultural backgrounds, but we can work toward common democratic goals for the benefit of us all. Right now, I’m living in a neighborhood that consists of Muslims, Koreans, African Americans and assorted others. It feels like America to me, and we can be an example to the whole world. Along with the election results, we even had a World Series winner, so Happy New Year, everybody. We have reason to believe that it is all getting better.

Chizu Omori, of Oakland, is co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” She can be reached at chizuomori@gmail.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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