Wednesday, 28 January 2009

"De-inaugurization". Plus, thoughts on a different race run

Ahh. It's over, right? The inauguration of Barack H. Obama as President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009, marking a truly historic moment, is over.

I coined that word at about 1:30AM on January 21 in order to describe the phenomenon of ridding oneself...make that, myself, of the effects of over-exposure to the inauguration, due to over-coverage by media. They just kept going and going - outlasting the Energizer Bunny, I'm sure - and wouldn't let up! I was like, "CNN, you need to go to bed now, so I can stop watching and tapiiiiiing!! I was all over the place: CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CBC, BBC, BET, Comedy Central. Ugh! I finally went to bed at 3:20AM, after loading a Monk DVD, hoping it'd be a kind of panacea. (Did I mention that that's my fav show on television? Except that I don't get it here. I used to, when I was living in the US of A. Now, I simply wait until I purchase the latest season on DVD.)

Anyway, that was the effect of the over exposure. I mean, when is enough coverage really enough?

So, President Obama inspires a heck of a lot of hope. And, if you know me, that's a real biggie for me, this hope thing. Yes. Hope is as vital to life as oxygen. Thing is, this hope that is inspired through his accomplishment, should not be misplaced. It shouldn't be placed in President Obama. I believe the President recognizes that it was by the help of God that he accomplished what he did. His and our hope should be built on no other power but God's.

Could you really place your hope in someone whose decision to go from one meeting to the next depended on whether he was having acute diarrhoea? Seriously. My point is that the man is just a man. He seems like a wonderful human being, but, remember, he is just a man.

One of the things that struck me in one of the many still photos of him was just how present he was in that moment in time. Here was the moment for which he had been preparing for a long time, and he was ready. Another thing that struck me was that he looked able. Yes, he was up to the task.

There were previous attempts at Democratic presidential nomination made by civil rights icons. It is not that they were not ready. They might have been ready for that time. History will tell. However, in this particular race (no pun intended), for this particular time, there was a clear need for a certain kind of President. Another African American might have succeeded and done a good job as President. However, the kind of President needed for this time was not one that could simply just do the job of President well. The individual needed to be the kind of President who would takes steps and initiatives, the likes of which had never been seen before, in order to meet the demands of the new world in which we live.

Barack H. Obama's campaign signalled that readiness and the majority of the electorate gave him the opportunity.

I think that had an icon of the civil rights movement run in this election, the tone of the campaign, and the electorate at large, would have been much different. Bad different, too. I can't help but think that theirs would have been a kind of "black come-upance" or "going for the black vote" thing. I look at the distinction between that tone and message and that which was echoed throughout President Obama's campaign. I see his as speaking to the ideals, if you will, of change and hope, to Americans (black and white and in-between) everywhere. Then, oh, by the way, he's black and his assuming the Presidency would be uplifting for African Americans and, by extension, for many black people and other minority groups the world over.

Then, there's the matter of this being a fantastic personal achievement. He must feel good - steering clear of saying proud. And, his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, along with the girls, must be very proud of him.

Kenneth Burke's position on identification with regard to persuasion, remains so poignant and true for me. In essence, identification is the surest form of persuasion. Across race and ethnicity, people identified with him - this man of bi-racial roots and multi-ethnic background; a world citizen with a brilliant mind.

This may be a point of departure for many, however, as a black person from the Caribbean, I am not able to fully empathize with the African American experience of racial prejudice and segregation. I do not know what it is like to be a part of that reality that discriminates against me based on the colour of my skin. When I was struggling with this idea a few years ago, thinking I needed to apologise to somebody for not feeling 'as black as an African American", I got a bit of help from someone - a Jamaican woman who is now a professor at a University in the US of A. She explained, quite simply, that if it had not been for the struggles and victories of the civil rights movement and all the players therein, I would not be able to enjoy the benefits of America, the fruits of their labour, today. So, I thought about it and have come to realize that during the time of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws, a black person was not asked which country she was coming from. Black is black and the rules applied to whomever the melanin fit. Another professor who writes for The Sunday Gleaner in Jamaica made a point a couple years ago, as well. I read this about a year after my 'couch' experience with the professor in the US of A. I don't recall the topic of the column, or even the main issue of that day. However, I do recall him saying something to the effect that even though he had never experienced the racially charged environment of yester-year in the US of A, he is sensitive to the experiences and reactions of the African Americans. And I thought, by George, I think I've got it!

So, I've pretty much summed it up like this. I might not be able to relate. Yes, we have the histories of slavery, but the segregation laws, and having to abide by them, are not a shared staple of the histories both societies. So, I might not be able to, ok, fully relate. However, I am definitely thankful for the struggle and the resilience and the perseverance of those who made the level of inclusiveness that we experience in this day of 2009 US of A possible.

President Obama took advantage of the possibility that arose out of those struggles and victories, readied himself and now, has stepped up to the responsibility as an able individual. I am not surprised that an African American has attained this position. I'm just glad that it is the likes of a President Barack H. Obama.

I am proud of him for achieving this goal. Our hope is placed in God and I continue to pray for the new President and his family.

Congratulations, Mr. President.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

The pitfalls of ignorance

Took the title from a comment just overheard on a news story on CBC News Sunday, a moment ago. The question was something like, "What should Ottawa avoid?" in relation to the pending Obama administration. There was some talk about NAFTA; the "dirty, dwindling and dangerous" imports from Alberta... Hey, we shall see what we shall see, eh?

So, I wasn't invited to the inauguration on Tuesday. Go figure. I guess, like the billions who will have to settle for live broadcast, I'll be recording this historic occasion.

(Note to self: Coverage of the Presidential Inauguration of Barack H. Obama will begin on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 11:00AM.)

Btw, tomorrow, January 19, 2009 will be celebrated in the US of A as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The timing could not be any more appropriate; focus has shifted from decades before to a day before.

Got wind of an article in Parade, published January 14, 2009. It's a letter to his daughters from President-elect Barack Obama. Haven't read it yet. S'pose I will.


Thursday, 8 January 2009


It's January 8, 2009! Whoo Hoo!

The highlights of my day? Time spent communing with my Maker this morning, lunch with a new acquaintance and peanut cake.

Like the customs officer said when he greeted his friend the other day as I made my way through CLT: "Every day is a good day!"

I had such a wonderful time with my family during the holidays. Met mah niece and she is, well, let's just say she tends to speak her mind (inverted commas omitted intentionally). I really do hope she grows up with tact and diplomacy - she's gonna need 'em.

Oh! Another thing I did today? Painted my nails Aruba Blue (by Essie).