THE BLOG

Black in an Obama World

02/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A funny thing happened when Barack Obama was elected our next President of the United States -- I became really, really popular.

Popular not just with my friends, but with those who only know me in a passing manner -- and stranger yet, popular with those who don't even know me at all.

It all started when President-Elect Obama secured the Democratic nomination. Just riding the bus to work, I could feel people looking at me as if to whisper, "Good for you!" And then as the race heated up against McCain, I came to realize that people actually had expectations. After they patted me on the back, they wanted someone to talk to about the election, and more specifically, about Obama -- and that someone was me. No longer could I be content to read the paper in public, scanning headlines about Decision '08, without someone sidling up next to me. "Isn't it amazing? Aren't you excited? I really think he's going to be good for this country..." No longer could I ride in a cab whose driver was listening to a news station, without being engaged in a full-blown discussion about the atrocities of the past eight years. No longer could I go into the office without white man's burden unloading on me with stories of growing up in sheltered communities and the hidden shame of a Republican parent. Just like that, I had become the outlet for everyone's personal Obama story.

Lest there be any confusion, I am ecstatic about the election, and proud of Obama's accomplishment, which is both a reflection of how far this nation has come in such a relatively short period of time, and a testament to its colourful fabric. But he is everyone's President, not just mine -- and I am entitled to the same rights as everyone else to hold any opinion of him, or none at all.

So far, I've entertained and engaged all of those who have knocked on my door (or, as the case may be, ploughed through it uninvited). But I'm getting a little tired. Yes, Michelle Obama does carry herself very graciously, and makes a lovely First Lady -- but it's okay to admit to me that her Election Day dress looked like a tie-dyed apron. And of course, President-Elect Obama's inauguration will be the most exciting in my life, and probably American history - but it's okay to roll your eyes at the selection of Rick Warren to lead the prayer. These opinions don't make you a racist in my eyes or anyone else's.

Perhaps as his presidency gets underway and the novelty of an African-American family in the White House wears off, I will once again be allowed to enjoy a pedicure in peace without having to participate in a political roundtable. In the meantime, next time anyone approaches, perhaps I'll just have to say I was really hoping for Hillary.*

* I wasn't.