I am cautiously optimistic and deeply pleased that Barack Obama came out on top in the Democrat Iowa Caucus with 39% of the vote, making him the clear favorite over Edwards and Clinton. Though I'm not convinced Obama is ready to be president, this early victory in the primaries bodes well in my small world. I feel it is auspicious indeed that a black man could do so well in Iowa the same year that I became grandmother to Leon and Aliou, twins from Liberia.
Just before the twins arrived, I listened to Obama read his book, Dreams of My Father, A Story of Race and Inheritance. The book filled my heart with hope and calmed my fears regarding the climate of racism we were bringing the boys into. I'm a child of the 60s and remember the Civil Rights movement with weeks of TV news footage depicting riots and fires and lynching, images I still can't get out of my mind. I know things are better, but I'm not naïve. The color barrier still looms large in this country. So my hope soared for my country and the African grandsons who were on their way as I listened to Obama's rich voice recount his life as the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. The book was written in 1995 before Obama was elected Senator in Illinois, and it offers the perspective of a young man describing his experience with race and many cultures.
I am not politically astute. I haven't followed the presidential candidate race very closely, and I'm guilty of voting intuitively and from my emotions just like the people who put Bush into office. But I do have a method for making political decisions. In the case of presidential elections, and even senatorial and gubernatorial elections, I read memoirs, biographies, and feature articles in newspapers and magazines looking for a window into a candidate's life. I remember reading The Ugly American when Kennedy was running, though that was before I could vote. In fact that might have been the book and times that established my way of learning about a political candidate.
For today--right now--however, I'm simply happy that Barack Obama did well. I enjoy seeing his black face smiling warmly on the blogs and news websites that I'm reading this morning, a face just like Leon's and Aliou's.