The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Nothing Changed

I wrote in the previous post, echoing a commentater from last night, that Americans just elected president a man whose parents’ marriage would have been illegal 40 years ago.

Upon hearing that California’s anti-gay marriage amendment passed, I guess they will say the same of my sons, if either of them runs for president.

California and two other states voted in Tuesday’s elections to ban same-sex marriage, dealing a blow to gays and lesbians in the left-leaning, trend-setting state months after they won their case in state court.

But in an indication of the complex cultural map drawn by the elections, voters also rejected limits on abortion in South Dakota and Colorado in a loss for social conservatives as the country elected its first black president, Barack Obama, a Democrat.

…California’s Supreme Court had declared same-sex marriage a right in May, unleashing a flood of weddings, but the state’s voters changed the Constitution to rescind the right after one of the most expensive ballot campaigns in history.

Florida and Arizona joined California in Tuesday’s elections, adding to the list of dozens of states banning same-sex marriages with similar laws.

It’s funny, In twenty-four hours I gained new faith in America. And quickly lost it.

In twenty-four hours, everything changed — and nothing changed.

And America still isn’t America, to me.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.) 

O, let my land be a land where
Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

Last night I went to bed feeling like a “real American.” This morning, it turned out nothing had changed.

Last night I went to bed proud to be an American. When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t.

Last night I went to bed ready to take on all the problems that face American, even if they don’t specifically relate to me or that one concern of mine.

This morning I woke up and though, “Why bother? Nothing changed.”

4 Comments

  1. Same here. I’m an American expat living in Canada, and last night was the first time in a long time that I felt a bit nostalgic for my old homeland. This morning? Not so much.

    But I still believe that it will happen. It didn’t happen today, but it will happen. Almost 50% of the voters in the most populous state of the union wanted it to happen. Almost five million people. You could make a whole other state out of that many people.

    We will see the day.

  2. It will happen.

    I send my love.

  3. Ah, Terrance. My heart goes out to you and yours. Change comes slow. Like glaciers, but equally relentless. As Ted Arroway observed in “Contact” – “Small moves, Ellie, small moves”. You’ll get there. Just keep pushing.

  4. I could not agree more! I was so happy and proud when Obama became president, proud I had voted for a man who is going to change the nation, proud at how far we’d come, and that lasted exactly 2 hours until I saw that prop 8 was passing. Today I feel the exact same way and a little bit irritated at people who can only see how much we’ve changed, and yet how far we still have to go. I am also saddened by the fact that 7 out of 10 of our fellow brothers and sisters voted for prop 8, hence why I just finished reading your piece on black homophobia. I could not agree more. The fact that blacks voted for the ban at a hiring rate than any other ethnicity just makes me want to scream ” Coretta Scott King was pro gay rights for a reason!”.

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