Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome Back America!

I know everyone and their dog have already commented on the historic event that just took place in the US. I gotta speak my mind as well and add to the chorus.

Let me just say that Obama did not win the race simply because he was black. He won because he was the most suitable candidate for the job. He won because of his inspirational leadership skills, because of the policies he proposed and the platform under which he was running.

Coming from a predominantly Black country I grew up seeing a Black person holding the highest position in my country's government. However, even for me and for many persons of Black descent not living in the United States, words cannot express how it felt to watch Obama win the US elections and to listen to his victory speech. And for this, I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with an article I recently read which said that America has once again returned to its place as the land of opportunity in the eyes of many world citizens. When you think about the fact that just 40 years ago the law in the US supported the practice of treating Blacks as second-class citizens.

Less than 40 years ago, Blacks in the US were being killed simply because they dared to stand up to the inequality that existed at the time. And yet....and yet...just 40 years after...millions of Americans, (Black, white and all the shades in between), voted for a man of Black descent to be their president. Americans voted for a man who, half-white or not, had he been living in America 40 years ago, based on his looks, would have never come close to getting the opportunity to even consider running for president. That fact speaks volumes to me. It proves to many of us around the world that regardless of all the bad that exists there, that the United States is still really the main land of opportunity, where dreams can come true. For all other Western countries' talk of having more racial tolerance and equality, I have yet to see them elect a minority to their highest office in government. And those other countries abolished slavery long before the US did (European countries) or, hell, many of them did not even have slavery (I see you Canada).

Also, while I was just now referring to visible minorities holding positions of government, I was also using it to mean all minorities. I mean, with the exception of South Africa, I have not heard of another big (physically or influentially) country that has elected to their highest position in office, a person who is a member of a minority group that has faced at least centuries of hardship from the majority in that country. *I welcome corrections on that and am genuinely interested to learn as I know that there are other countries who do not really toot their horn much.

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