Saturday, November 29, 2008

Catalina's Dad

Photo of Catalina Vargas courtesy of Catalina Vargas

Catalina forwarded this email that her father wrote after our recent elections. She said her dad usually does not send emails like this, but was so moved by our elections, that he wrote it. He sent it to all three of his children, all adults in their late 20s or early 30s.

I had the pleasure of meeting her dad a couple of times while I was teaching in Bogota, Colombia. I remember one conversation we had about judges in Colombia. I remember him telling me it was hard to have justice when the judges get killed all the time for trying to rule in a just way. I never forgot that.

Anyway, her dad attended Harvard University during the turbulent civil rights era. Please read below for his heartfelt reaction to our elections and what he experienced
as a young man in our country during the civil rights movement.

Hello Kids:

Last night you were witnesses of a very historic change: a black man was elected president of the USA. I did have the opportunity to live in Harvard through the difficult times of segregation, racism and all the problems that the Civil Rights Movements brought out to the public in the 60s and 70s.

I was a tutor in an all black "Upward Bound Program" in Darien, Conn, in 1967, for 150 black kids with high-school problems for being underachievers. For me, it was a summer of reflection and deep worry when I saw the profound hatred between the races. The young negroes simply reacted violently to violent laws and treatment, there was not a chance to try for peaceful talk as most meetings with students ended in bad words, violent remarks and plain threats. To be in the middle of all that was my introduction to the racial problems of the USA, something that I did not fully understand, but I sensed that it was wrong.

Fortunately I was a foreigner, a "martian", and this provided me with a shield that made me invisible to most of them and did not have any trouble with the black majority living and working day by day and night by night there.

Well, yesterday I witnessed the "end of an era". Only that will be enough to ensure a legacy for Mr. Obama. And although I am a non-political animal I am glad that I lived to see it. That is democracy at its best. Anybody should have the chance to run its country if he/she is a law abiding citizen, and that happens only in the USA. In addition to the cheers and the speeches of last night, I saw a huge technological show on TV where results and opinions were shown live and direct. As your mom said: "if you present all the numbers for everybody to see–demographics and political – then you have transparent elections"

I hope you learnt from this election. Regardless of the future, Obama is a model of politician for everybody. Respect and fairness for your contenders are the weapons of real democracy. When do we expect to see something similar in Colombia? No one knows, but certainly I will never see it. I sincerely hope that you do.



Anonymous said...

i have to say im interested to see what he gets done but have to sad he has to survive his term as he will bring out the domestic nutjobs like never in our history

Mary Cuevas said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for commenting. Yes it is a worry. I actually fear January 20th.

I saw the Barbara Walters special with Obama. She asked if he was worried. He said no. Ms. Walters said there were more threats against his life than any other president in history.

Obama said he has a great secret service detail. At this point, we were shown a shot of an SUV, two or three big guys in bullet proof vest carrying big automatic machine guns.

Don't know if that was Walters' editorial decision or her producers, but love them for that. Moreover, I hope the nut jobs saw that clip as well and it will act as a deterrent.

I have never been so excited about a president in my life. Hope has been renewed in me.:)