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The long, hard-fought battle to become President of the United States of America has finally come to a close, with the young Illinois Senator Barack Hussein Obama winning the polemic heavy contest and accomplishing the task previously believed impossible of becoming the first black man in the country’s 200 year- plus history.
With the close of this historic election, now come many different reactions from the general population (with some people overjoyed and proud and others utilizing the opportunity to spread their racist views,) and tough questions that cut to the heart of society and our beloved country’s storied history. What do the results of the election mean for racism in the country? Is this a turning point? What are people’s reactions?
In the W.E.B. Dubois library on the sprawling campus of the University of Massachusetts, students offered some answers to these decisive questions.
“People of color can feel like they can achieve a lot more now, unity and great things,” said U-Mass senior Sociology major Yocelin Cordones. Most students on the windy, leaf covered Massachusetts campus believed for the most part that the election of Obama does signal a turning point for racism in the country. “This is a real step forward for a majority of Americans, and a step forward in terms of race,” said U-Mass senior Political Science major James M. Greene.
“With [Obama] being a man of color it represents history and change, and we’re not going to have someone with the same policies as Bush” said Cordones. Although the justified feeling of hope was certainly prevalent and understandable, reality and the past is a cold reminder of the need to be cautious. “Just because we voted for Obama, a black man does not mean you can wave a wand and [racism] will be over,” said Greene.
Students feel Obama was able to capture people's votes because of a quality he possess that stacked up to more than just his race. “White people voted for him for his policies and his right decisions,” said Cordones.
The reactions of the students concerning the election were fairly similar and the state of the electorate map elicited amazement as well. “Just in terms of states like Virginia and North Carolina going for Obama after 50 years, moving towards civil rights instead of separate water fountains is a real step forward,” said Greene. “I was for Obama and I was so happy when he won,” said Cordones.
The world is watching and the students at U-Mass will have to wait with them to see what happens after Obama is inaugurated in January, but for now it seems that just being elected by the country is enough for most people.
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