Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Night To Remember


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.

4 comments:

me said...

Sean - some of the finest words I have read in a very long time. You capture not only an unbiased overview of the events, but also instill your own personal feelings towards the matter without sounding "preachy" or belittling any other stance. Knowing that these words come from one of my dearest friends, I think you are in the wrong profession! I am glad and honoured that Iwas able to join you in witnessing this historic occaison, which is a rareity in today's society. Very few of these moments come along in a lifetime, and to witness it with someone who truly appreciates and embraces such occaison makes it all the more special.

Cheers!

Wayno said...

Well stated Sean! As a white 40-something American --- and self-described Canadian "wanna-be" --- I whole-heartedly agree that Obama's victory is one of the most positive historical events in my lifetime. He is an incredibly intelligent man --- a true statesman --- in an era where politics and partisanship have completely drowned out the voices, hopes, and dreams of average Americans. We have a small window of opportunity, though. We must step up and do our part. As Obama said on Tuesday night --- he needs our help. We made it this far on "Yes we can!". Now it's time to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of getting this country back on the right path --- "Yes we will!".

I said...

I hear you on the "race not playing a role" discussion on CNN. I was like "what the???". What is this panel smoking?
Anyways, as much as this was about a man name Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, becoming president of the most powerful country in the world...(against all odds) this election has been just as much about people voicing their opinions (like this blog and comments).
This win IS about everything we are feeling and saying. It's about something wonderful and powerful. It's about being inspired, motivated, renewed, and empowered.
It makes every person think (regardless of colour)... "Yes We Can!!!"
**thanks for the blog Sean**

Bloggopotamus said...

I arrived in Orlando on the night of the election. Was pretty surreal flying into Orlando International while watching the election results begin to pour in. Was pretty cool to recognize that I was flying over the US at one of the most significant moments in history.

As we were picking up our bags on the carousel, the final declaration was made that Obama would be the next president. People were watching the tvs in the airports, listening to live broadcasts over their phones, even the airport staff...it was as though time has stopped.

It was amazing to see the emotion that was evoked through this election. Probably the moment that hit the most was watching an African-American family rejoice with hugs and smiles while the mother began singing a gospel hymn. An amazing moment in time.