So today I watched the American Inauguration ceremony, like so many. Excitement probably couldn't be read on my face but my soul was filled with wonder. My joy didn't have to do with Obama and Biden as much as it did with the mixture of people attending, performing, praying and speaking. It was that visual reminder that this country is indeed a melting pot that lifted my spirit.
It's easy to say it and read it, but if you don't experience it as much you don't truly believe. You know it's technically correct but that's about it. If I may, allow me to defend my amazed perspective. I grew up in a pretty quiet town. I'm a first generation Ghanaian American, meaning my parents came to this country from Ghana and I was born here. Throughout most of elementary school I was the only minority until fourth grade. The community began to get more diverse as I grew older, but not by much so when I'd see a picture of a very diverse group in a textbook, a billboard or even TV it was easy to think anyone different from the "norm" was a token. Insecurity and cynicism made me wonder how far we were past our prejudices. The younger generation is usually better about this stuff, but sometimes they inherit the attitudes of the older generation. It wasn't until I left for SCAD Savannah did I put many of those thoughts to rest, and again when I went to New York, because, well, they're very diverse environments. There was no room for the cynicism because the proof was there in my face everyday.
Now I'm been back home in a nice town with kind people. From time to time though I think some of those thoughts from my younger self still creep up on me. "How far past our prejudices our we? Could the person smiling in my face be genuine or be judging me unfairly because of my creed, race, gender etc.?"
Perhaps this is my fault for not going out and experiencing the changing world more often, because just the reminder of how far we've come could be seen on that broadcast today.