Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mountaintops

And though it seems heaven sent we ain't are ready to see a black president.

Just needed to correct Pac's line there.

Stop for a minute. Just stop. Consider where you are right now in your life and where you were when you heard the news that Barack Obama had won the US presidential election. Bask in the elation and the euphoria, take in the sights and the sounds. Remember them!

Without overly indulging in hyperbole this is truly a momentous occasion. Its one of those "one moment in time" moments that Whitney sang about.

In my lifetime so far I've seen such events as the end of apartheid and the end of the cold war. Those were moments back then that I hoped might come but still never really dreamed would occur. Similarly but oh so much more of a dream, pipe dream even, was the concept of a black president in the US. In fact it was so much a dream we didn't even dare to think it. But on this day, that dream has become a reality, well a reality in so much that a black man has won the election and is now just waiting to be sworn in as President in January.

I can only imagine what black folk felt like when slavery was abolished (lik an lock up done wid hurray for jin jin!) or when they got the right to vote. Maybe this occasion gives me an inkling as to those joyous occasions. Maybe not but just maybe.

Now understand my position. I am a Bajan, a West Indian, a immigrant to Canada, a black man, not necessarily in that order. I am not African-American and although we're all African many of my connections to that actual continent aside from my skin tone have long been lost in the depths of the middle passage and the annals of slavery. So some may ask why is this so important to me, what does Obama's election change, why should I care?

Well first off let me say that although race plays its part I embrace Obama not just for his skin tone but for his approach, his message, the way he ran his campaign and the possibilities that he represents not just for the US but for the entire world.

And now, I embrace his victory. We are coming full circle from the Dubya pick to Obama. Under and Obama presidency things may or may not change in terms of US policy, it may not affect the price of oil or the economy , at least in the short term, and it doesn't mean that we awake this morning and all racism (check this Globe and Mail racist poem) and prejudice has magically ended somehow but at least from a black perspective the outcome of this election says something has changed. We as black people, as minorities, have now seen a glimmer that possibilities lie ahead for us and our children that we might not have dreamed had existed before. We have the audacity to hope.

We may not be alike in many ways, him and I, and I definitely don't expect him to have a specific black agenda while in office and won't get mad when he looks out for the betterment of the entire country as opposed to just the betterment of a specific group but Obama's victory today is my victory, its our collective victory as black people. Note I didn't say the war has been won there are many battles yet to be fought but this right here this is a victory and a significant one nonetheless.

Obama has shattered a glass ceiling beyond most of our wildest expectations and the same way that some expect that we black folk should accept a collective shame and guilt whenever some random black man commits a crime well why shouldn't we now embrace Barack's victory, an achievement that gives us pride? So as I said his victory is mine and I cheer loudly and unabashedly for him.

We have a new hero. Especially for us who are here in North America as minorities. We no longer only need look to foreign leaders or dead African kings and Pharaohs or Marcus, Martin and Malcolm to point out to our children what black people have and can achieved. We have a real live person closer to home who isn't a rapper, who isn't an athlete, who isn't an entertainer who we can say has achieved the impossible, defied the odds, made it to the very top and looks like you and I. We can look at our children and point to Obama while paraphrasing his words Yes you can.

There is still a long way to go but each journey starts with the first step. As Mos Def said we living now with the promise of the infinite, we living now with the promise of the infinite.

Inshalla!

On a more somber note I also embrace this win on behalf of those who paved the way, those who sacrificed and were beaten and tormented and suffered to make this day happen. Those who didn't live to see the dream come to fruition. "I'm destined to live this dream for all my peeps who didn't make it." Obama's grandmother didn't live to see this day, my own father, who I know would have loved to see this, didn't make it and my friend Callie in Florida died last week, so close to this day but yet so far, a few days ironically after I had actually dared for the first time to ask her the question "so ya think Obama going to win?" She had replied simply "Yep...I think we are gonna have our first black president." She was right.

So today I celebrate for those who came before us, those who paved the way, those who didn't live to see the moment but yet shared the dream. Those of us who have lived to see this day should beyond all be thankful that we are here to see it.

So with that said congratulations and good luck President elect Obama. You have made it to the mountain tops but its not an easy road you now must travel. Our prayers go with you for the next and most likely hardest part of the journey. As Buju said "its not an Easy Road, many see the glamour and the glitter and think it's a bed of rose, Who feels it knows, Lord help me sustain these blows."

Make us proud son! Represent!

20 comments:

Abeni said...

Very well said. Yes,we can and did.I endorse the shifting of the stereotype that successful blacks lie in entertainment etc.

God bless Obama,govern well

Will said...

brilliant post... very considered and sensible... in other words, i totally agree with you... :-)

i think this is a catalytic time in history... things are being sparked... changes are occurring... and the election of a black president is symptomatic of a larger shift in attitudes - not just in the usa, but worldwide... it will also cause a major shift in attitudes...

it's a very exciting time to be alive...

Leon said...

That poem really showed me how foolish many of these racists are. Words cannot express my pride at Obama's victory, but you did it fairly well.

bajansistren said...

You summed up all my thoughts and feelings so all I can add is....the dream is alive.

Ruthibelle said...

Nice post...

Jacqueline Smith said...

Brilliant. His acceptance speech will be immortal like Martin's mountain top. That reference to the end of apartheid is right on target. I felt the same way the day Mandela was freed. This victory won't convert all the bigots, pity for them. But it will heal narrow the divide in many ways and heal a whole heap of the pain.

Melody said...

He's already made us proud, J, an' he'll continue to make us proud, 'cause he's most real. All he's gotta do is keep bein' himself. Now, all de tabloid shows talkin' how him handsome an' sexy, an' how Michelle so stylish. Yes, he is, an' yes she is, but they are so much more than that. Like yu said, him shatter a glass ceiling -- not even glass, cement. We stood in line for hours durin' early votin' an' there was an electoral volunteer tryin' to coax voters into leavin' de line at Regional an' sendin' mail-in ballots that she was handin' out -- 4 DAYS B4 de election!! Tryin' to deter people from votin' in person. An' she wasn't de worst o' de haters, de protesters at his Park rally were quite mean-spirited -- an' that's puttin' it mildly -- worse when de PalinMcCain skywritin' was up. De police had to EARN their pay in preventin' them from goadin' de rally's supporters into confrontation. Ah was so proud of those young men by de curb, who refused to be jeered into aggression. They were wearin' their suits bought just for de occasion one o' dem said (said he wore casual, even to his homey's memorial, but this campaign demanded a suit -- don't know why ah felt so moved by his pride in his suit). Young men slingin' Tshirts, instead o' rock. Lookin' rugged as they wanna be, an' sayin', "Excuse me," an', "Thank you." Anyway, mek mi stop write this entire blog pon yu page. Ah luv this post.

Campfyah said...

Oh so well written. We can only absorb this dream, this reality and move fwd with the notion that Yes we Can and Yes we did! There is hope for a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. No the wounds of racism are not erased but they are surely fading.

Yes, this win was for so much who wanted to but didn't see this dream become a reality. Our girl Callie, may she rest in peace knowing that an African American is now at the reigns of this country.

Crankyputz said...

Great post...Inshallaha Indeed....

How great is it going to be to have a thoughtful, sensitive leader at the helm?

Crankyputz said...

Now if Only Canadian politics could take such a cue.

Karel - Caribbean Public Relations said...

Yes we can. I get all emotional every time I think of this victory.

JerseyTjej said...

I am 6 hours over eastern time and I have so neglected my blog...PLEASE remind me to blog mark you because you seem to be one of the only other bloggers that make sense nearly all of the time! Even when I laugh, I am with you!

Stunner said...

Wonderfully written post indeed Jdid and it is certainty a momentous event, a piece of history we got to see.

GC (God's Child) said...

Awesome post

I'm still trying to figure out why so many people thought they'd never live to see it when Barack Obama obviously said, "I'll give it a shot" as did Jesse Jackson, Carol Moseley Braun, and Shirley Chisolm.
What else are we deceiving ourselves about? What else do we dare not try because we are prejudiced enough to believe that others are too racist to get out of our way?

Empath said...

What Jdid said. I feel weird having witnessed such a monumental occasion.

Olivia said...

I think it is significant, though, that Obama is not descended of slaves, so he's not African American in that sense, but in another. He is not an activist as Jesse Jackson was - which frankly I think would have scared voters away. He is instead assuming that we've passed that stage, did not focus on race, and that is a stance that gave voters confidence.

I really respect his mind, his presence and his poise - and how different he really is. We are finally in the 21st century.

Marc M said...

He indeed have provided many with the Audacity to hope. The guy is qualified for the presidential job and his election is very symbolic to me. I agree though, his election doesn't mean the world will change over night or even that U.S. policy will change overnight for that matter. Anyways what a tremendous achievement and now any kids I have in the future I'll let em know there is nothing beyond their reach - they may have to jump higher, run faster, over come greater scrutiny than others, but nothing is beyond their reach.

maria said...

Jdid, bravo, this is beautiful.

ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID said...

Well said my brother!!

Guyana-Gyal said...

You've captured the enthusiasm and pride well, Jdid.

I've been thinking a lot about that word, 'change', I think about it all the time actually. "Be the change you want to see...." It's up to every individual.

My mother taught me, nothing beats a failure but a try. She also quotes something about achievement, I can never remember it word for word, but it's about man, achievements, goals. We can do anything [positive] we want to do if we set our mind to it.