So many did not believe it. Like St Thomas, they said “se le mwen we, ma kwe” (Creole for “I will believe it only when I see it.’’)
The skeptics and naysayers were not only racist supremacists with brain genome still adapted to the Stone Age, who have incorporated beliefs that blacks are unintelligent, lazy and incompetent.
They were also black men and women (even many of our leaders) who were so scared to believe in themselves, in the brown-black capacity to have a vision, short-term and long-term goals, and to put everything in motion to realize them.
The election of Barack Obama as the first black U.S. president completely destroyed these myths and preconceived ideas about black people’s capacity and values. Now, a black person can dream as high as he or she wishes.
If he wants it bad enough and is willing to work hard, his dream will become a reality. How many times have we told this to students during school guest speaker appearances?
Yet, up to Nov. 4, 2008, it was utopian. It existed only in the landscape of our imagination. In the tableau of our mind. On Nov. 4, however, it became reality. A black family will occupy the White House (built, in part, by enslaved Africans) for the first time.
This is real. This is historic. For once, there seems to be synchronization of thoughts between young and old. For my sons, Akim, 14, and Tarik, 12, it was a simple competition and the best person won.
Tarik, who is in the seventh grade at John F. Kennedy Middle School in North Miami, said he believes that the “Obama win will make a change not only here in America, but a change all over the world. A change not only economically, but also politically.”
Akim, who is in the 10th grade at North Miami Beach Senior High School, added, “With Obama, this country will reach its ideals of being a true contributor of peace, equality, and justice around the world. We will be the moral compass by which other nations will rate themselves in terms of respect of human rights and creating an environment that fosters respect and dignity.”
Across the ocean in Switzerland, Enid Maurer, a Haitian culture specialist and dance instructor, shared the feelings of people around the globe when she penned in French, “L'élection de Barack Obama à la tête des Etats-Unis a ouvert une nouvelle ère, l'aube d'un nouveau jour. Pour la première fois dans l'histoire des USA, on peut réellement parler de démocratie, d'un pays unis, des Etats-Unis!’’ ( “The election of Barak Obama opened a new era, the dawn of a new day. For the first time in the U.S., we can really talk about democracy—democracy of a united country, the United States.”)
Translated to English, the rest of her statement says, “For the first time, after hundreds of years of slavery, the whites of this country and the grandchildren of former slaves dared! They voted a black man to the highest office of their country, showing to the world that it is time to stop judging a man by the color of his skin but by his true human capacity. As a black woman, I’m proud that one of ours is able to show to the world that no matter the color of his skin: hard work, the spirit of justice, honor, respect, integrity and intelligence of the heart and the spirit pay.’’
President-elect Obama has generated so much enthusiasm that there is a fear of over expectations. After all the joy and excitement ebbs away, the hangover will be that change takes time, and it also demands hard work.
There will be no “solisyon fasil” (Creole for “easy solutions”). Like Jean Desire said, “se nou tout ki pou met men-n alapat” (Creole for, “We all need to put our hands together,”) whether you voted for him or not.
As Obama indicated in his acceptance speech to those who did not vote for him, “I will be your president, too.”
Marleine Bastien is the founder and executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM), or Haitian Women of Miami, Inc.