This article was originally published on Humorality, on January 19, 2009.
My Fellow Helixes…
With the morrow comes the long-awaited inauguration of America’s forty-fourth president, Barack Obama. I, as a member of several of America’s most significant minority groups, will sit just inches away from my TV screen eyeballing the historic event. As he utters those constitutional words written down by the founders centuries ago, many like me will experience a certain amount of satisfaction in our genetic parity with the president-elect, and the victory over rampant discrimination that has kept people, especially me, from reaching the highest office in the land.
Take Obama’s height. He towers at six feet one-and-a-half inches, and I am proud to say that I, too, have the advantage of height, thanks to the genes he and I share in common. I myself am five feet ten inches. Well, I’m actually five feet nine-and-a-half inches, but that’s basically the same as six-feet-plus. Giants like us have had to endure the taunts and degradation of seeing our heights exploited year after year in the windows of so-called “big and tall” shops, and in televised spectacles such as the National Basketball Association. Other forms of discrimination have kept me from taking part in big and tall shops or the NBA draft, but Obama’s above-average height still resonates deep within my monstrous bones.
Then there is the issue of gender. Although his campaign did little to exploit this little-known aspect of his genetic makeup, Barack Obama is male. Like me, the soon-to-be-president possesses a Y chromosome. And like me, this has been used as a form of rampant discrimination. A full fifty-one percent of the American population is female, as were (I have been told) three of the last four presidents. The certain confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State this week, even after her devastating defeat in the Democratic primaries, proves the power that these women wield, especially in the Lower 48 states. That Obama was able to overcome the statistical odds gives me hope that, I too, will achieve great things. In Communistic nations such as China, governmental policies have evened the score, with men rising to nearly fifty-two percent of the population. An Obama presidency in such a nation would have been a slam dunk–excuse the height reference. But he achieved the mantle of success in a nation where political parties hold virtually no sway of the lives and election decisions of the citizenry.
I have not even mentioned yet how I am a virtual Obama twin in terms of head-hair retention, use of the English language, and spending years in church without actually listening to my pastor’s sermons. All of these minority factors have brought years of turmoil and distress to white, middle-aged, middle-class Christians like me. And while Obama and I have severe disagreements on policies, and although I know he is sure to take this country in several giant steps backward, I still cannot get past how our similarities overshadow any of those side issues. Were it not for our common DNA, I might have dismissed Barack Obama as another slippery politician whose lack of real executive experience might doom this country to four or eight years of national hardship. Instead, I hold my head high, looking forward to my own future role as leader of this great nation, and reveling in the fact that our genetic similarities matter more than anything else.