It is with great pride that I hereby state that skin pigment is no longer more than a trivial issue that can be overcome. The moment when the world gathered to keenly listen to the result of the election was quite telling, and it’s impossible to convey in cold print the electric atmosphere of that night. This was not just a great victory for Americans, but a decisive one for minorities around the globe.
In the words of Ben Carson: “Class and prejudice will always exist as long as there are people with physical, social or economical differences. We cannot eradicate it, but can certainly help in reducing its power.” Indeed, I believe now more than ever that being a member of a minority race, religion, culture or gender does not mean being a minority achiever. It feels so good, because it’s no longer a fairy tale, but a reality.
I personally believe that this victory remains symbolic. I do not expect that black people will be granted special favors, nor am I under the illusion that President-elect Barack Obama will open a charity tap to Africa. More significantly than that, this election shows that skin pigmentation is just that. Beneath its veneer lies the wiring of great men and women who can do well in all aspects of life. Opportunity beacons for all, that if they work hard, are responsible and believe, success has been proven to be possible.
I cannot presume to speak for Africa as a whole, but from the videos, phone calls and pictures of people celebrating Mr. Obama’s win, it is evident he inspired many. In Kogello village, where Obama’s father hails from, people congregated to dance and pray fervently for one of their own. The youth gathered to celebrate, waving placards of “shujaa,” which translates to hero. In a Pumwani maternity home, a child was born and named Michelle Wacuka to identify with Mr. Obama’s wife.
This was so crucial to many, even those who are not Americans, but who feel a kinship tie, share a name and skin pigment. It is true that for that historic moment the black person felt liberated. It is because of this that I pass my heartfelt gratitude and salute the millions of Americans who had a shifting consciousness to overwhelmingly support Mr. Obama.
For in that defining moment, a young person who was sipping traditional brew, with lost hope and focus, was inspired to yearn for more. For if President-elect Obama made it, then the art of possibility applies to those that remain diligent and focused.
Before the election, in the corridors of opinion, I heard voices declaring unease because some people would be voting for him “just because he’s black.” My response bespeaks my belief, Why not?
I recalled with nostalgia the passionate words of Ramona: “In this country men are pulled over everyday just ’cause they’re black; passed over for promotions just because they’re black; considered to be criminals just because they’re black; and there are thousands who did not vote for him just because he’s black!
However, they do not seem to have a problem with that!
This country was built with the sweat and whip off the black slaves’ back, and now a descendent of those same slaves has a chance to lead the same country, where we weren’t even considered to be people, where we weren’t allowed to be educated, drink from the same water fountains, eat in the same restaurants, or even vote.
So yes! I voted for him! But it’s not just because he’s black, but because he is hope, he is change, and he now allows me to understand when my grandson says that he wants to be president when he grows up, it is not a fairy tale but a short-term goal. He now sees, understands and knows that he can achieve, withstand and do . . . ANYTHING.”
Studying American civilization and learning about how slavery evolved, from blacks being considered property and elevated to three fifths of a person, women’s rights were ignored and Native Americans suffered, just to mention a few American injustices. My heart skips a bit at the realization of the success of the emancipation act, trembles upon reflection on the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands who died in a war to ensure the end of slavery, emboldens on consideration of the civil rights movement.
Watching a dark-skinned gentleman win the election was astounding.
To state that this country has come a long way would be an understatement. A black family will soon be residing in a house built by slaves. It’s refreshing to know that the price paid in pain and blood during the struggle was not a waste. It is because of this that I share in pride with Americans, comforted by the art of possibility and knowing that if I remain focused then, “Yes, I can.”
Seasons may change but the beauty of that night remains the same.