Adjusting To A New Reality

A reader writes:

I'm the black woman from Chicago who wrote a while ago about how I didn't particularly care for Obama. I wanted to tell you a brief story about how I have had to re-adjust my world view.

I'm a design professional, married to a white man, living a thoroughly integrated life. My son is 13, and I often tell him stories of his grandparents, who came from the south in the 1930s during the great migration. My father went to college and law school, but in the 1950s there were no firms hiring black men. Period. Not being the entrepreneurial sort, he got a city job and lived his life. My mother was a stay at home mom, and identified as black, even though to see her one could just as easily said Scottish or Irish. My son is going through a battery of tests right now to enter high school, and has had to fill out applications. We finally had a talk and he said " Well Mom, what color should I be?"

I frankly told him I wasn't sure.  He self-identifies as white, and looks it, but we all know that 50 years ago he would have had to say he was black, because no black woman could have a white kid, right?  The irony is that on these applications, it is to his advantage to be black, since they give no option for mixed race. Living in the city, he has a better chance of admission as a black kid than a white kid with the same scores. All the professional advice came back telling him to be black, just for the moment. His classmates were apparently jealous that he got to be black.

My son is amused by my reaction to Obama being elected, he teases me about being unwilling to believe it until it actually happens. I find myself at a pivotal moment between generations, and I guess the thrill and fascination I have is just to watch.  I can't help looking back as well as look forward, in amazement.