Even though this is mainly a sports blog, I believe I'd be doing myself and my readers a disservice if I didn't share my thoughts on what we witnessed earlier this week (as captured above by Chicago Tribune's Nuccio DiNuzzo). Although, I do find it extremely fitting since I created this blog site and my first entry on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2008.
I have waited a few days to post this because I wanted the reality of it all to set in, and somehow try to express in words what culminated on November 4th, 2008 means to me.
I definitely became more cynical over the past 8 years - and I largely attribute that to what I saw in the American political process while living there during that time frame. I will openly admit I didn't ever think I would see this day. That alone is a resounding statement.
It's not that I don't believe in hope and promise - but some cycles seem as if they'll never end. I am happy and PROUD to admit I was wrong, although I am most happy that my Mother and others from her generation and earlier generations, who are still alive, were able to see this happen.
I can undoubtedly say that Barack Obama's Presidential election win is one of the most POSITIVE memorable moments I have witnessed thus far in my young lifetime. I remember as a 13 year old watching the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and then Nelson Mandela's release from a South African prison after 27 years of imprisonment for fighting against apartheid. Both of these events marked monumental first steps that were taken to begin rectifying Titantic-sized social injustices and intolerable ideologies that had existed for generations.
Without question there are still major, necessary steps to be taken in order to eliminate racism and prejudice, but similar to the moments I just exemplified this definitely marks another monumental step in overcoming negative and bigoted mindsets, lowered expectations, and for many - a sense of hopelessness.
While watching CNN this week in the days after the election, someone in a panel discussion stated that "race wasn't an issue in this election". Personally, I completely disagree with that notion. I prefer to agree with Soledad O'Brien's opinion during that same panel discussion, when she commented that (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Barack's race wasn't a roadblock or hindrance in becoming the President."
To me, by saying "race was not an issue" or when someone says "I don't see colour" - I feel it's minimizing in some way the mistreatment of people of colour over the past 200+ years in North America and that it hasn't been a major obstacle to overcome, or that Barack's win is not as significant of an accomplishment as it truly is. There simply would not have been nearly as many African-Americans voters from various generations, many of them FIRST TIME voters, if race wasn't at least part of the issue. I clearly understand what people likely mean when they make those aforementioned statements, but you HAVE to remember the past in order to fully understand the present, and the future.
Certainly, BHO's qualifications, charisma & demeanor, understanding of key issues, platform, and 'stick-to-it-iveness' with regards to his campaign message were ultimately the reasons he won this 2008 Presidential election. And because of this, I am greatly encouraged that we as a society are getting closer to a day when someone isn't "judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" - but since there is still a need for initiatives such as affirmative action, it's clear that, as a society, we have much more to accomplish.
On January 20, 2009, President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama will become the United States of America's 44th President, and the FIRST African-American to do so. President-Elect Obama represents the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ALL of the others who have or who continue to fight for civil rights and, just as importantly, he represents the realization that those dreams are now more than just an ideal, more than just words...
They are becoming a reality.