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.pesquisar
 
Segunda-feira, 2 de Março de 2009
Pensamentos / "My Thoughts on Obama"

"Even to this Moment"  by Julie D. Hackett ( ler Bio no final/ read Bio at the end) 

 
The days and weeks leading up to the 2008 American election were what I imagined the days of the Civil Rights movement to be. Days when black Americans stepped out to say enough is enough and scores of white Americans joined them stepping out of their comfort zones to do what they felt was right. Everyone involved took risks. They risked their lives, alienation and the ease of life that could have come if they had just remained in the shadows. And now some 40 years later, the joy and excitement over what could be, penetrated the soil of a nation that had for centuries lay soaked with the blood of inequality and displacement. And on November 4th 2008, people marched. And people united. And people drove others to the polls. And people knocked on doors. And people made calls. And people waited with a patience that could not be shaken because they knew this was their only weapon - the last fighting chance to change history and the current darkness that was blanketing the morale of America. People were well....just people that day - in other words, quiet heroes, soldiers in an ideological battle that was in danger of being lost.
 
Even to this moment, it all seems a bit surreal. The images penetrate our memories of a day that will never be forgotten in this country or in many cases, around the world. The country that so many had lost faith in, including its own native sons and daughters, was given the greatest gift, possibly of our living memory - the gift of voice, unity, equality and a restoration of faith even among the strongest cynics.
 
I was one of them. In fact I was making plans for my escape route in the horrible event that Obama was defeated. To be honest, I don’t know if recovery would have been possible, for me or for scores of Americans who were literally resting their last hopes in the election of the only standing symbol of salvation and possibility. I admittedly stayed cynical up until the last moments when the returns from states with hefty electoral votes began to pour in, certain that there would be some foul play or delayed results. And most of all, my cynical mind kept me thinking that there was no way possible that my fellow citizens would ever elect a black man to the highest office in the land. The question that had been up for debate for decades and on every poll in the US was about to be answered - judgment day had arrived. And here America was, standing with not only a black man, but an exceptional human being that had the necessary gifts of leadership to heal the rifts of the last eight years.
 
Maybe I held my cynicism close to protect myself from the ultimate disappointment or maybe it was simply a natural reaction to the results of the last two elections. After all, I had witnessed a stolen election in 2000 only to be shattered four years later by the reelection of that very same thief. I could attribute my cynicism to many things that day but I held on with a guarded optimism and deep down I hoped and I believed that change was truly coming.
 
A good friend of mine called me to get in my car and drive to Harrisburg, PA the Saturday before election day to knock on doors in a county that had gone 55-45% to Bush in the 2004 elections. These were the doors of the so called sideliners. The ones labeled as apathetic and disinterested in politics and taking their own destinies into their hands. What we found was a different reality. Every household that opened up to us was hopeful, every house ready. Whether black, white, middle class or poor, young or old, they were ready for change and believed in their power to create it. It was so inspiring I decided to return on election day to knock some more.
 
What inspired me the most was the range of generations I met along the way. From women in their late 70s who arrived cautiously and slowly at their doors, supported by walking canes to the fresh-faced 18-year old black males that proudly let us know that they were voting in their very first election. My white friend and I definitely raised some eyebrows as the residents came to their doors that day, but when our purpose became known the barriers fell. I couldn’t help to think that 40 years ago we would literally have been risking our lives to be out there together. My my how much had already changed. I was told later on that Obama won in that county 55-45%. My my how much had changed!
 
This election meant so many things to so many different people on so many different levels. Those of us Americans who have had to endure unkind words and treatment when we travelled abroad, finally felt that it would be safe to say “I am American” without retribution or snide comments or questions on how we personally could be responsible for the demise of the entire world. Those of us struggling financially believed that change was on the way from a man with a new perspective and compassion for the down trodden. Those of us who had experienced shame and anger at the division that existed within our country felt the ability to be proud again or for the first time ever.
 
And the most meaningful result came for those of us who have lived and suffered in a country where while there has been significant progress, perpetual racism had kept us from ever believing in the possibility of having a black president. I am speaking of African-Americans of all generations who had either suffered directly under the hatred of police batons and water hoses, white only signs and relegations to 3rd class citizenry or those of the newer generation who adamantly believed that we would never see a black man as president because of the institutional brand of racism we had come to know. We were left stunned and lifted that day by the voices that rang out in unity - black, white, Asian, Latino, Muslim, Jewish, Christian - with a song of protest and demand for what was a long time coming.
 
So many people found great offense in Michelle Obama's comments about her feeling proud to be American for the first time. However, I don’t think there was a person who stood with that family that night that didn’t finally understand what she meant. For the first time in my life, I was truly proud to be American. I felt like anything was possible and I thought for the first time that the things that many white Americans would say to my face, they actually believed in their hearts and took these beliefs to the polls. I trusted my countrymen and became part of a common cause. So much pain we had experienced over the injustices that our country had inflicted around the world and on our home soil in these last 8 years. But out of this pain came a fury for justice and change that allowed people to vote with their belief systems and not by preexisting societal standards.
 
When the race was called - it seemed a dream. To watch a black man walk out onto the presidential stage with his black first lady and two little black girls was like a living mirage. How many times had we all
said - NEVER IN MY LIFETIME? I used to say this with sadness and justified cynicism that MAYBE my child would get to see such a thing but I truly never believed I would get to see it. I was elated to celebrate life with the people around me who also got the chance to witness this miracle. My grandmother, my mother, my aunt and uncle who had grown up in segregated Baltimore and been denied what I and my generation consider the most basic human rights were now standing before possibility and promise. I sorely missed my Dad and my great-grandparents wishing they could be here with us to see it, but then I realized that they were seeing it all just nodding and looking at all of us celebrating with a quiet assuredness as if to say - we knew all the time.
 
I thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of the people who laid the path for this day and how they never relented and never gave up. I envisioned him proudly surveying the scene with his quiet elegance reminding us that his dream was coming to pass. He finally saw the day in America when a man was truly judged on the content of his character changing the course of our history forever. I won’t follow up with “Free at Last Free at Last” because there is still a long road ahead. However, I will say that the election of Barack Obama has put America in a place and time where we can continue the journey with hope and unity that many of us thought would never come.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio
 

Julie D. Hackett is a native of Baltimore, Maryland where she currently works on international youth development issues focused on education, service and youth leadership. Her passion for travel and never ending need for excitement and diversity has taken her around the world and influenced her love of writing.

 

She studied International Affairs and Humanities at Georgetown University and pursued her graduate degree in Latin American Studies from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

 

Julie is an avid writer of poetry and social commentary focused on race, social justice
and inequalities particularly in American society. The November 2008 election of Barack Obama was a life changing experience for her and in ways unimaginable, renewed a broken faith in the power of the American spirit.

 

 

publicado por Mafalda Avelar às 23:28
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1 comentário:
De João a 4 de Março de 2009 às 11:13
A Julie deve ser uma rapariga cheia de garra! FORÇA Julie! As tuas palavras refeletem aquilo que muitos colegas meus também sentem.

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