It was 2008.
Barack Obama had just been elected President of the United States of America.
I had never felt so proud, so powerful. A lot of firsts occurred in 2008. It was my first time voting. It was my first semester in college. It was my first time feeling like something good had come about, that things might change in this country.
The noise level in the cramped tennis clubhouse was overwhelming. I had never seen so many Black people on campus before that night. Black people, brown people, white people, all shades of people mingling and celebrating — together.
I wanted to claim this victory for us. He was ours, after all? Was it not his complexion, his culture, his demeanor that had swayed so many, had caused people to have hope and wish for change? He was ours.
My friends and I left the clubhouse. The campus was brimming with excitement. I had yet to feel much of a connection to this school, but one moment seemed to change it all. I looked around with new eyes, with new vision. I would claim this place as home. I would make it home. I was powerful. I could effect change.
My friends and I walked. Laughing, jumping, with too many thoughts and feelings, unable to hold any of them in. We were so excited that we didn’t notice that the crosswalk light hadn’t changed, that we were crossing while the hand flashed red.
Almost immediately, we heard the sirens. We whirled around, thinking that those could not be for us, not on a night like this.
But they were.