Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can! Obama: How we should all start turning a new page!

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. There will be no acknowledgments or updates this time around. My tribute to Gonzo 2.0 is all about President-Elect Obama! So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?

The Turning of a Page? Obama and the Larger Picture...

Unless you're living under a rock, you already know what happened. Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, is now the next President of the United States of America. It is a moment of epic and historical proportions and it is a moment to reflect on what the next four years will and should be like. After all, Obama's victory is something that is the end-result of a larger, a much larger effort. I won't claim to know it all, but I'll try to offer an historical perspective, incomplete, but historical nonetheless.

You see, the fact that an African-American has made it to the highest post on the planet is no act of sheer serendipity. It's more than the outrage and discontent for eight years of failed policies. There's a deeper philosophical struggle here and that needs to be mentioned as well. Obama's accomplishment is the build-up of the work of several Black/African-American men and women in the arts, the academia, sports, and even entertainment, who have been standing up against the inequailities of the times and the lack of opportunities over the past two centuries. Obama mentioned a 106-year-old lady in his speech. In those 106 years, a lot of people have worked towards this day, a day that we should not forget; a day when we should recall some of those names...

When I saw Obama standing on that podium, I could see the legacy of intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass and what he said about issues of inequality and discrimination. I see people like Carter G. Woodson, and how maybe he can be hopeful that the Negro, the Latino, the Disabled, and other minorities in the U.S. and the world will no longer be Miseducated. I can see that the efforts to stand up for their rights that brave men and women like Rosa Parks and her refusal to move to the back of the bus were not futile. I can see that the act of civil disobedience by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, back in Mexico '68 is something to be proud of and not, as was at the time, something to be vilified about. I can see the war cry of the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul and Forefather of Hip-Hop, "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!" still giving all of us inspiration. I can see the efforts behind the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education making more and more sense and why everybody deserves fair access to education.

In Obama's words of hope, I can see the efforts of more men and women who have not been afraid to speak their minds and fight for their beliefs from their different fronts and while doing that, breaking ground. I see the work, words, and actions of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bob Marley, Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Texas Western Miners, Muhammad Ali, Toni Morrison, Cornel West, Richard Pryor, even Jesse Jackson, just to name a few. African-American history (as African and Afro history around the world) is rich and full of moments worth highlighting. Obama's victory is simply a moment when everybody's efforts have converged in that victory walk at the podium at Grant Park in Chicago.

But this is more than a much-deserved moment of victory and even vindication for so many African-Americans who have felt what oppression looks like. It is a moment of vindication for all of us who believe in social justice and true equality. It is also a challenge for those of us who believe that no children should really be left behind beyond cheap rhetoric. This is not a challenge that simply belongs to the U.S. In many countries, mine included, there are still millions of people from different minorities still dealing with oppression, disenfranchisement, marginalization, etc. If anything, Obama has taught us what WE, meaning those of us who have the privilege of a world-class education, need to do with it. Mind you, he could've used his Harvard Law degree just to be partner of the law of "Johnson, Smith, Jones, & Obama," right? He could've conformed with being a millionaire attorney making money of our lawsuits. Instead, he has worked hard for the have-nots, since his days as an activist in Chicago. Obama has reminded us that access to these golden opportunities places us in a position of advantage from which we can help and empower others.

One of Obama's slogans was, "Change we can believe in." The questions for the rest of us, both in the U.S. and the world are: What kind of CHANGE do we believe in? What kind of CHANGE do we want to be part of? What kind of CHANGE do we want to bring about in our communities, in our cities, in our countries? I think this should galvanize all of us, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, etc. and make us aware of the challenges ahead of us as citizens of the world. We live in what Marshall McLuhan used to call the Global Village. We're more connected to each other than ever. What will we use those connections for? To benefit ourselves only? Or to benefit others? I think the change of the guard that we just noticed is a call for all of us, White, Black, Latino, Asian, Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Christian, Muslim, etc. to start making a difference once and for all. The winds of change are knocking on our doors. Our children and grandchildren will judge us for how we respond or refuse to respond to this call. It is up to us, in the words of the great Bob Marley, to "get up, stand up..."

I know I already have!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón)

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