Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

It's been a long time coming

An email from a 23-year-old in London:

The moons have aligned, and my personal faith in the United States ability for self reflection, examination and evoloution has been restored and re-energized.

I'm not going to blab on, analysing the importance of what's just happened, cos your all more intelligent than me enough to understand why I'm so happy today.

This post-racial man is already a symbol and an icon for so much- but he's not Guevara, or Ghandi or Mandela, not yet. He is a politician and a man before any of the T-shirts, badges and rapper endorsements, and will continue to be now that he is president. I only hope that while America has been bold enough to provide an example to the world by electing Obama, they are now patient enough to allow him the space to learn and grow as we must all do.

I won't say no more except to bless you all with a song that has already become a cliche, but the best god damn cliche I've ever heard in my life.

'America is so racist it would never vote for a black president' and other urban legends

Thank you America, for finally shutting up every pub bore who smugly informs you that 'America is so racist it would never vote for a black President.'

Thank you Americans for standing in line for many hours to prove so decisively that democracy functions exactly as it should. Thank you to the low-income workers who lost pay yesterday because they had to wait in line so long. Thank you to African-Americans who came out in record numbers to vote, often for the first time and to white Americans who put centuries of bigotry and prejudice behind them to vote for America's first black president.

But very selfishly, thank you America for releasing me from eight years of being a minority. A minority among my anti-American friends, who believe that no good can come from America.

Thank you America for your optimism, your belief in the future, the vitality of your language, your literature and yes - your television (The Sopranos!), for Jon Stewart and the Onion, for Studs Terkel, who didn't quite live to see this, for Philip Roth and Toni Morrison and Houdini and Robert de Niro and Donna Karan and Betty Friedan and Ms Magazine and Goldie Hawn Marvin Gaye and Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. For frozen yogurt and Barney's. The list goes on and on.

Yes it can. Yes it did. Yes it will.

(And a minute ago a DHL courier came to the door with the first copy of the US edition of The Clothes on Their Backs. Which has a starred Kirkus review coming up.)

America still reinvents itself, and that is its promise to the world.

World to America: Thank you

And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

It's 6 am in London. I have stayed up all night, with two American voters, one of whom did her duty in Dade County Florida. I'll have more to say about this part of President Elect Obama's speech tomorrow.