Opinion: From oppressed to oppressor

BY DESMOND MILLER
EDITOR

On Nov. 4 2008, I was torn in two by the historical election that struck down one discriminatory ideal, the thought that a black man could never be the president of the United States, and strengthened another, the thought that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.

As a 32-year-old black man, I was ecstatic by the electricity of President-elect Obama’s words as they filled my mind with unlimited possibilities that this unprecedented moment in history could create.

The idea that my family, my grandmother who is in her 80’s and knew racism in its most raw sense could cry tears of joy because of the hard work her generation did during the civil rights movement made me smile.
Just as quickly as those happy thoughts swirled in my head, they were ripped from me when I found out that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that would change California state law by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, had won.

California wasn’t the only state to vote to change its laws regarding marriage. Arizona and Florida have also banned same-sex marriages. Currently, there are only two states that have legalized same-sex marriages, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

As a 32 year old gay man, I was devastated. The ring that I wear on the ring finger of my left hand felt as if it weighed a ton, becoming a symbol of discrimination by the people that want to let fear and hatred rule their lives.

The thing that made this worse for me was that 69 percent of Black voters voted for Proposition 8, according to CNN exit poles.

I hung my head low as I succumbed to the fact that the Daily Show’s host Jon Stewart was right: Within 24 hours my people had gone from oppressed to the oppressors.

So what do I do now?

It is obvious that we have still a long way to go before we can truly live in a world were we are truly equal. I often think about my grandmother, when she asked me to forgive her for not coming to my wedding a year ago.

I forgave her because I understood that change takes time and even thought she couldn’t see past her own beliefs my younger cousin who is named after her could and she was honored to be in my wedding.

It took at least 200 years before black people got a fair deal in this country. It was by any means necessary that we survived to see the day that generations of black people had waited for. It took days, weeks, years for it to come.

Again, it takes time and struggle as we live and die we change and mix. Our experiences will become one and when we can finally see, whether through silent protest or burning rage, that we are all the same. Only then can we find the change the president wants.

So while one part of me is happy, the other must find a balance between the two. On one hand, I have never been more proud to be a black man; on the other, I am saddened to see that same part is what keeps me for feeling truly whole. I have patience and I am hopeful that we will see that change is the only way.

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