Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's January 20th. That means it's time to once again change things up in Washington, and this time the event is considered "historic" because of the man being sworn into office. Since this is not a political blog and I don't wish to turn it into one, I'll limit my statements on Barack Obama to simply say I wish him the best of luck for the next four years. Being the President of the United States can be a thankless task, especially in the current polarized political climate.

That said, his election is something very few of us who grew up in the 1970s could have imagined happening this soon. For those who remember the Civil Rights movement and the events that led us right into the 1970s -- the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, race riots, high tensions from a draft that was taking disadvantaged young men from their homes and sending them to die for a country they didn't always feel appreciated their sacrifices -- the way they see race relations is still reflected by those events. The social climate led to some memorable songs in the 1970s: "What's Going On," "Why Can't We Live Together," "Brother Louie"because the events were still so fresh in the minds of the public.

But something happened along the way. Americans who understood how the "old ways" were wrong raised their children to be more accepting of others. As a child of the 1970s, I remember the racial harmony of Sesame Street and The Electric Company. My parents always stressed the point that despite our differences, everybody in America should be given an equal opportunity to follow their dreams regardless of race, religion or creed. Furthermore, I was a military brat all through the 1970s so the neighborhoods I lived in were always of mixed ethnicities and backgrounds. As I grew up, these beliefs were instilled in me.

Fast forward a few decades. Americans are watching a man who has a mixed ethnicity take the office of President. For those of us who heard "In America, anybody can grow up to be President," today is a reminder that it's an attainable dream for those who are willing to work towards that dream. Much of the reason he won the election is because of the younger Americans who grew up being taught the same lessons as I was. Polls and studies have shown that Americans under the age of 40 don't tend to see racial issues as much of a problem compared to those old enough to remember the strife of the 1960s. It there still a problem? Likely, but the fact that the newest generations are moving away from old beliefs shows that the winds of change are often gradual.

Plus, the fact that we're having the first President who was a child in the 1970s doesn't hurt, either.

While I'm hopeful as always that the future will be bright...I just hope that the words of another great 1970s song (by The Who) aren't prophetic: Meet the new boss...same as the old boss.

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