My heart swells with strange sensations such as I have never experienced before. For too long I have been a stranger to love of my country. Today I have been overcome. Overcome with tears of joy, overcome with prayers of thanksgiving torn up from the bedrock of my soul.
The above photo was taken in San Antonio on Nov. 6, 2008, two days after Obama's historic election. Having spent election night far from my home, in a remote cabin in Terlingua, TX, with no radio or t.v., I was hungry for some Obama celebratory bonding. But I was in Texas so I had to tread carefully so as not to get shot. And the only people it seemed safe to have a little Obama bonding with in Texas were black Texans.
Normally I don't go out of my way to speak to African Americans. The reason is because I am ashamed of my whiteness and ashamed of the genocide and slavery on which this country was founded. And fear. Fear, because I assume they are pissed as hell at living in a racist society, fear because I know their anger is justified and fear because I know that I reap unfathomable benefits and privilege solely due to the fairness of my skin.
But listen, on Nov. 4, 2008 something started to heal. I felt it. Obama's victory gave me the courage to lift up my eyes and look into African American faces and even to initiate conversation. I asked these three gentlemen who were working on the hotel if they had voted for Obama. When they said yes I asked if I could take a photo of them holding the front pages of newspapers proclaiming Obama's victory. They said yes.
I have literally spent hours cropping and magnifying each of their faces on my computer screen and feasting my eyes on their faces. I do this because I have spent my whole life averting their gazes, casting my eyes downward and never seeing these sparkling eyes, these glorious faces. And I am amazed. I am amazed at the beauty of these faces. It's stunning actually.
I would have loved to have been in D.C. today, eating up all shiny happy faces of all hues. I hope this looking people in the eyes thing continues.
God, please forgive us all and heal this country.