Sunday, November 9, 2008

What President Elect, Barack Obama's victory means to me

I can't let another day go by without acknowledging on this medium the time in history we are living through. On Tuesday November 4, 2008 the electorate of the United States of America voted for hope, for change, for Barack Obama.

What does this historic election mean to me, a black woman, a Bermudian and a citizen of the world?

I had a conversation yesterday with an elder of our community and I didn't have to ask her what she thought of the US Presidential elections. It was a topic we shifted into effortlessly as soon as the initial salutations were over. We each shared our view and she expressed the emotions bubbling inside, the hope she has carried around in her life, the pride she has always expressed through her writing and story telling and the strength she instilled in her children.

I remember when Oprah Winfrey endorsed Obama many months ago. She took a lot of heat from Hillary Clinton supporters for not endorsing a woman. Shortly after her endorsement my husband and I had a discussion about the gender, race issue. I walked away from that conversation understanding my husband's position which also happened to be mine, we identify ourselves through our race first and gender second. It is something that has been instilled in us since, well, since forever.

I look at Mr. Obama as I do the men in my family; my husband, fathers, brothers and uncles are responsible black men who take care of their families, who love their wives and respect their mother, sisters and daughters. This is what I see in the next President of the United States. I do recognize that this is not the case for many families, black and white, in the US, Bermuda and indeed around the world. Mr. Obama has become the new role model that doesn't involve sports, singing, rapping or acting. He got to where he is through hard work, ambition and determination.

As a Bermudian, I am hoping his leadership style will rub off on the leaders in my island nation. I would like for them to learn from him how to lead with humility, strength and with the best intention for the populous.

As a citizen of the world, I have read many articles about how there is a tide of hope rippling through the world. People in far flung nations attended election parties, stayed up into the night and early morning to learn of the election results first hand.

There is vibration that is in the air and a feeling of change. We can not go back to the dark days of segregation, we can no longer stand by silently while horrors are being perpetrated against groups of people, we can no longer turn a blind eye to injustice. I think history will show that the people of the world at this time, took on the issues that are plaguing mankind, killing our planet and separating human beings.

I would like to think we took this opportunity to make a world of difference.

After the initial tears, shock and awe (the good kind) began to ebb away in the hours after the election decision was announced, I asked myself if I can remember any other time in my adult life that I felt hopeful and excited and speechless. The only thing that came to mind was when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I was a young broadcast journalist (my first job after college) and the only reporter on duty that day. I grabbed the mike, turned on the tv and reported what I saw to anyone who happened to be listening to the radio.

I remember feeling excitement, and joy and anticipation of what would happen next. Mr. Mandela had the ability to start to bring about change in the country of his birth. He was able to see in his lifetime the regime that imprisoned him become dismantled and his country was given the opportunity to rebuild.

I think we are at another point in history where an opportunity exists for us to stand up and say in one voice; we are ready to embrace change and become a better role model, a better citizen, a better human being.

I stand ready ...

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