Indivisible Man

What the new president means to me.
Indivisible Man
Phases and Stages: Will Obama’s inauguration herald the dawn of a more inclusive sense of race and identity in America?
Illustration by Jennifer Daniel

Early on November 5, the morning after the election, I lay in bed wondering to myself if we had really just elected a man named Barack Hussein Obama to be president of the United States. Would the country’s forty-fourth chief executive actually be a “skinny black guy with a funny name,” as he often described himself during his two-year campaign? Maybe I had dreamed the whole thing. From my pillow I could see it was still dark outside; it seemed much too early to make any sense of this. I turned over and tried to fall back asleep.

But what if Obama had been elected? What if he had won by a commanding margin, the largest of any Democratic candidate in years? What if we had really gotten beyond the obvious differences and come together this one time? It seemed like something worth celebrating in a big way. I lay there for a moment with my eyes closed, letting myself be lulled by the idea of flying out to attend his inauguration (that is, of course, if he had won). I imagined trying to find a good spot to witness the swearing-in ceremony


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