According to my husband, by the time he reached age 11, he realized he could never be elected president.
His reasons weren’t so much that he was Mexican-American or his failure to meet other, more complicated, Constitutional requirements.
Nope, his reason was simple.
His reason was his name.
“I would look at the newspaper every day. I read each of the bylines, and I noticed their names,” he told me this week.
According to my husband’s childhood memories of the mid-1960’s in El Paso, Texas – a sprawling city nestled along the Rio Grande across from Juarez, Mexico – there was only one Hispanic-sounding name in all the bylines of The El Paso Times.
“Ray Sanchez was a sports writer,” he said. “Everybody else writing for the paper was Anglo. I knew right then and there that if I couldn’t get my name in The El Paso Times, I could never be elected president with a name like Julio. I actually thought that back then.”
If you happen to know my husband, you probably are able to add that to the laundry list of other reasons why he – in particular – would never be elected president.
None of those reasons has anything to do with his name.
Even so, when he was young, based on nothing more than bylines in the newspaper, he realized something about realistic dreams. However, during the past week, that old realization was busted.
This week, little boys – and even little girls – across the country were able to throw my husband’s old reasoning out the window. For many, in the days after Tuesday’s historic election, the significance of the president-elect’s victory grew.
Late Wednesday afternoon, I encountered at least 10 young African-American men and women under the age of 30 looking to buy a newspaper. Like my husband, they were also looking for a name in a newspaper – and it wasn’t Ray Sanchez.
They were looking for a name as proof that no matter what they chose to name their sons and daughters, their children could be a part of whatever dream they chose to pursue. The young men and women I met wanted something to hold in their hands to prove that they were a part of history.
I got the impression that they were thinking forward.
They seemed to associate a newspaper – and in particular Wednesday’s newspaper – with nostalgia. They could just imagine the paper yellowing in the years to come. They could just imagine in the years to come having the chance to pick up the yellowed newspaper oh-so-carefully to show to their children and grandchildren that they were a part of history.
This week, we all were.
Thanks to the many readers who e-mailed stories of friends and loved ones who demonstrate inner peace. Next week, I’ll begin a series of columns featuring many of those nominated.