Wednesday, November 5, 2008

impropable, but not impossible (or, Yes We Can... make money as artists)

Election night, November 2008, Grant Park, Chicago, President Obama on the screen
Last night in Grant Park, I bore witness to something that I once only thought was impossible. This part of Langston Hughes' "Children's Rhymes" pretty much summed up my feelings about Obama's candidacy:

By what sends
the white kids
I ain't sent:
I know I can't
be President.

I suppose I had grown too accustomed to suffering. Too accustomed to things not working out, to people telling me that all my dreams were too unrealistic to come true, that I could never make it as an artist, writer, or designer, and that I'd be better off becoming an art teacher, but that because arts are always the first school programs to lose funding, and so I should become an English teacher instead. And so I have lived much of my adult life in somber dread of resigning myself to a horrifically long career of teaching a bunch of badly behaved teenagers about participles. What could be further than the dreams I had for myself? But I let people believe that I'd bought into that plan just so that I wouldn't have to listen to their unsolicited "reality checks" anymore.

Going back to graduate school for an M.A. in painting is my first big attempt to free myself from that. Finally I am pursuing a dream I've had all my life, in spite of everything I've been told about how it would never work out. Now that I see Barack Obama making history, now that I see so many people are willing to take a chance on someone who is Black and does not have a great deal of experience, it gives me hope that perhaps someday some employer will look beyond my race and my inexperience and actually hire me, that I will get a good gallery to represent me, that I will be able to get a literary agent and publish some novels, that I can make a living as an artist.

Last night in Grant Park, even the temperature was unlikely for this time of year. And the news we received was unlikely as well. And I realized that for too long I have confused the improbable with the impossible.

2 comments:

  1. Wish I could have been there too! What a GREAT Day!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're so lucky you were there! I will be here in DC for the inauguration though...
    Yes we did!!
    Love you cousin!

    E

    ReplyDelete

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