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Leonicka Valcius

Leonicka Valcius: November 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My President Is Black: A Reaction to this Historic Election

My American History teacher in highschool had a banner in his classroom. On it was the picture of all the United States Presidents to date. At 11 pm, when CNN declared Barack Obama the President-Elect, all I could think was "Dear God! There is going to be a black man on that banner!"

No one was more surprised by this reaction than me. Throughout this nearly 2 year election cycle, I had prided myself in being able to cite the specific policy and ideological reasons why I supported Obama and not McCain. I had prided myself in not supporting him "just because he's black."

And yet, as Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia gathered on that stage in Grant Park, and stood before the world as the new First Family, all I could think was "Dear God! There is going to be a black family in that White House!"

Some have commented that to much emphasis has been put on Obama's race. That is, if we really claim to be equal, then race shouldn't be an issue, good or bad. I suppose that is a valid point especially considering how carefully Obama avoided "playing the race card" during his campaign. But I think the reality of the situation is that equality has yet to be achieved in America or the rest of the world for that matter. It is only something to which we aspire.

So the reason there is so much elation, the reason there were people literally dancing in the street and hugging strangers is because we have made so much progress in such a short time. Less than 60 years ago, the Courts finally ruled in Brown V. Board of Education that seperate is not equal. And now the American people have elected a black man to the highest office. To pretend that this isn't a big deal is to ignore the entire struggle that made it possible.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Girl's Best Friend Visits the ROM

I got another byline. Except there is no "WOOT" this time. Sure that's my name at the top, but that's not my article. At least not the way I wrote it.

My assingment was to cover the new exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, The Nature of Diamonds, in 500 words. After going to media event I realized it was impossible. I had spent 2 hours at the exhibit and still had not seen everything. There was no way I could pack it all into 500 words. So I sent the editor an email proposing 4 smaller pieces: a quick brief on exhibit itself and 3 artist spotlights. This idea was shot down for space issue. Totally legitimate. As a compromise, the editor gave 1000 words.

I spent an entire weekend writing and proofing and editing and pulling my hair out to make it work. Finally I got down to a piece that was 998 words and that I was completly happy with. I emailed it as I was supposed to. Come Monday moring it wasn't published. That's fine. The deadline for Monday's issue is the Friday before; I had sent my piece Sunday. So I waited for the Thursday issue. There was none. I email the editor to ask what the deal is. After all I wasnt the only one waiting for this article to come out. Apparently they had taken that week off. But lucky for me, he had looked my article over and, although it had to be cut down for space, it was quite good. Again, no big deal. The paper has alot to cover so I understand.

So I wait. And on Monday when the paper finally hits the stands, I tear it open to see my name in print. And there it is. Stark against the gray of the newspaper, the byline is beautiful. But as I begin to read I don't recognize the words. Paniced, I turn on my laptop and cross reference my copy. I mean it had been a rough week. It's possible that I forgot what I wrote... But no. The differences between what I wrote and what was published were obvious. They did more then edit the length of my article. They completly stripped it of my voice. Without the byline I would not have recognized it as my own. And that hurts.

So as always you can click on the title of this post to read the latest published article that bears my name. Woot.

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