What Obama Means for My Son

One father's journey through a racially-charged election
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2008 11:45 AM CDT
Two young girls wait at a late night rally to hear Barack Obama in Boston, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama looks poised to win the presidency, and that would mean a lot for Gary Younge’s infant son. Younge wasn’t always sure it would, the Brooklyn resident writes in the Guardian. "It wasn't that I didn't understand the symbolic importance of his bid. I just did not want to mistake it for substance." His African-American wife had a different take. “My dad grew up being told a black person couldn’t be a pilot,” she said. “My son is growing up knowing that a black person can be president.”

Younge’s own thinking soon evolved, “not so much because of the man, but the moment.” Obama has become an important symbol, his candidacy a “teachable moment” about racism. McCain “misread white America’s appetite for divisive racial rhetoric and overestimated its fear of the other.” This doesn’t prove Younge’s son can necessarily be whatever he wants—"I am his father, and it's my responsibility to teach him that." It proves that white people won’t necessarily stop him.