Monday, November 03, 2008

'I never dared dream of a black president.'

I sat in a cafe in West London today reading several black writers, poets and filmmakers talk of what the election of Barack Obama will mean to them. I found it to be genuinely moving. I can't even imagine how this moment must feel to someone like Maya Angelou, who has written all her life about "the childish idea that human beings are different."

How will I be spending election night? On my knees. Maybe getting off them to have a very nice Scotch and then getting back down on my knees again.
And then there was the eloquence of Jay-Z, the rapper:
Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run. Obama's running so that we all can fly. I can't wait until 5 November and I'm going to say 'Hello, Brother President'. I can't tell you who to vote for. All I can do is tell you to vote."
Then there was Samuel L Jackson who grew up in the segregated South:

It's not just about what an Obama victory will mean to the African American community, it's for the nation in general. It means something for the little Asian kid, or the little Hispanic kid, for everybody of a different origin than Anglo-American. It actually means that the lie that they told us all these years – that you can grow up to be anything you want to be in America, even the president – might actually be true now. Until this election, it was just a fantasy – you had to be white to be president. The closest we got to it was when Jimmy Smits was elected president on the West Wing or Morgan Freeman being president on screen.

I grew up in the segregated South, and there's probably still two generations who grew up next to "Whites Only" signs. We were part of that time in America when we were second-class citizens, so no, I didn't expect to see this in my lifetime. It's really wonderful and revelatory in terms of how far we have come so fast. And hopefully it will signify a major change in how we are perceived in the world community. Obama represents what we hope America can be.

After the last eight years I regard an Obama victory as a victory for the world, for all of us who yearn for an America which lives up to the fine principles which it preaches.

Barack Obama is a man of such principles. But to people like Maya Angelou and Samuel L. Jackson and Jay-Z, something much more profound is taking place. We can't even pretend that we know what that must feel like.

Maya Angelou:
I never thought I'd see a black president in the White House in my lifetime. I didn't even dare dream it. I feel like a child approaching Christmas, you can't believe election day is finally here. It's been so long since we've had people – Asian and black, white and Spanish-speaking – come together and say YES. Some did during the civil rights struggle but not as many as today.
Tomorrow the US is set to make it happen. Happy days. For all of us, but especially for those who have yearned for so long.

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Ingrid said...

Kel, I'm nervous like wouldn't believe the file smear ads that are on the airwaves it's despicable. The bad part is not their despicableness, but the fact, that there are plenty of unintelligent people who'd lather it up and take it as truth..


Kel said...


I detect a lot of fear from my friends in the US, probably because of what happened during the last two presidential elections. But, to be fair, the polls always said that the last two would be tight.

The polls this time are saying the exact opposite. He's got the Kerry states and a few others in the bag already and I also think he will take Missouri, North Dakota and Florida. If it pans that way he's going to have 327 electoral votes.

McCain has been going negative for the last couple of months and every time he does it seems to only reflect badly on himself.

I'm usually as neurotic as you are at the moment, but I honestly have no fear over this one, perhaps because I am far away from the madness. The only way McCain can win is if every single poll since mid-September - and there have been more than 250 of them - have been wrong. That's simply not feasible.