2007 wasn’t a horrible year but I’m sure glad its over.
It had its GOOD moments – the introduction and possibility of hate crimes legislation and an employment non-discrimination act becoming the law of the land. Faces in our local and national leadership changing with old friends taking on new challenges and new friends stepping to the forefront. Affirmations opened the doors of its new center, while the Ruth Ellis Center received national recognition for its continued work with homeless LGBT youth. And perhaps the icing on the cake was the election of openly gay Craig Covey as mayor of Ferndale.
It had its BAD moments. The removal of hate crimes legislation from the Department of Defense authorization bill despite reports by the FBI that showed an eight percent increase in hate crimes including 739 reports in Michigan alone.
And, it had its UGLY moments – the exclusion of the transgender community from proposed ENDA legislation and the ensuing schism within the LGBT community of the decision by some gay leaders to accept a non-inclusive ENDA for the sake of political expediency.
I believe in the promise of this country but in recent years have felt disempowered, limited and frustrated with a society afraid to embrace change. A society that seems to be trying to stomp out the strength and beauty of diversity in favor of one-nation under a god that embraced exclusion, segregation, homophobia and division. 2007 with its highs and lows had only continued this season of discontent. And so I, for one, have been looking forward to 2008. Not because the new year promised change, but because it is inevitable and at long last our actions really can make a difference.
Bush can’t run. Cheney won’t run. The field is wide open. Both parties have given us a wide array of candidates so we can decide to continue with the old politics or chart a new direction for our communities and country.
Talking politics with my 90 year old aunt, she commented that she never thought in her lifetime she would see a woman or a Black man become president, but now thought she just might. But it’s even bigger than “white woman/black man” we also had a Latino in the running for a while. And like it or not Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee brought faith and politics to the front burner. Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Kucinich, Paul, McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee – a variety of positions – some different, some not so different but each an opportunity for the American public to choose what direction our country will take in the future.
Change won’t miraculously happen overnight regardless of who is elected. Many of the decisions made over the past eight years, especially the appointments to the Supreme Court, guarantee we will still have a fight on our hands but this is it – our moment of opportunity to make a change. The primary and caucuses have been encouraging with their record turnouts in general and especially among young voters, women and people of color.
Thanks to the power of the internet and blogosphere we are sharing opinions and having discussions like never before. We are forming extended communities not limited by distance, but instantaneously connected to the world with the click of a button.
Television brings international events into our living rooms making many question the United States role in the global community. It also has turned its eye on the streets of America where thousands have little or no healthcare; foreclosures are stealing the dream of many families; global warming, poverty, unemployment, crime and the grief of communities saying good bye to young men and women coming home in body bags from Iraq, has destroyed the safety net of suburbia. No one can say “It’s not in my back yard” because it is.
It is time for a change. We know it and the whole world is watching. While on a recent trip to Toronto I got into a spirited discussion with some Canadian women. They all asked when the United States was going to get with the rest of the world. They knew I was in their city to celebrate my third anniversary with my partner but still could not get married in the States. “Why can’t you get married over there?” one woman asked. She went on, “America’s trying to make the rest of the world just but its own people who love each other can’t get married.” “There’s so much bigotry and hatred in the U.S. I won’t go there anymore,” she said and then told me of an unfortunate incident in the States where she had been harassed first because of the color of her skin and then when she spoke with her West Indian accent she was subjected to another hate-filled tirade about immigrants.
“And why are people so worried about a woman president? They have them everywhere else in the world” another chimed in. “The U.S. is supposed to be the best. Why don’t you people do something? You keep voting in the same types. Are you all daft or something?” I heard them out, telling them that we weren’t all the “Ugly American” depicted in the news and assuring them that many Americans were working for change. Then I paid for my purchases with my dollar bill that was only worth 93 cents Canadian and slunk back to my hotel.
So what are we going to do in 2008? It’s up to us, not just in November but throughout the year, to set a new course for our country. We can stay at home and do nothing and let the country go back to a future of fear driven, faith- based politics of persecution, discrimination, social and economic injustice. Or we can take a giant step towards Martin Luther King’s dream of a beloved community and join the global community protecting our earth and all its citizens.
In numerology 2008 is a “one” year (add 2 plus 8 to get 10 then 1 plus 0 = 1). Let’s seize this moment in time and let 2008 be the first year of a better tomorrow.
2007 wasn’t a horrible year but I’m sure glad its over.