Today is Barack Obama’s birthday and he turns 47. Congratulations on being a man who already has made history in several ways just by daring to believe that he can.
He wowed us with a speech at the Democratic convention, and made us stand up and take notice. His decision to run for president stirred up debate and controversy as people from all sides of the spectrum tried to analyze what it was that gave him the ability to galvanize people to action. His race against Hillary Clinton was a long, hard fought one, and we almost forgot that they were both Democrats (not sure if it helped our hurt the Democrats….that remains to be seen). It also helped America realize that African-Americans DON’T vote across color lines, with some of her most avid supporters being people of African-American descent. The race for nomination brought record numbers to the polls for the first time in history, making us realize that if we have a platform worth supporting, we will have people come out to support it. The first African-American to be nominated for president, he has opened the door for minorities to step through.
His heritage has been a source of derision, admiration, suspicion, and pride. The son of a Kenyan father and white American mother, who later had an Indonesian stepfather and was raised in a Muslim country with an Arabic middle name, he is probably the best symbol of the melting pot that America claims to be. Some African-Americans feel that his background puts him out of touch with the realities of growing up as an African-American in the U.S. There is also the old house ‘nigger’, field ‘nigger’ attitude that make people feel like he is in the house and out of touch with the folks in the field. Surprisingly, he is equated with a champagne crowd while Hillary was equated with the beer drinkers (who would have thought we would see this??), an observation that I find fascinating. Considered too refined to be in touch with the blue-collar crowd, we are constantly being told he is out of touch with what the working class is going through. Despite the fact that he was actively involved in several projects while in Chicago, he is still considered by some to be unable to relate to the plight of the poor…no tangible reasons are ever really laid on the table, but I guess that is irrelevant. His middle name has been used by naysayers to portray him as a Muslim, and therefore a potential traitor. If that were the case, all people with Arabic names would be in trouble, but I digress.
Rejected by many of his own, he is walking the tightrope that many African-Americans have to walk–considered to be ‘acting white’ by some of his own based on his education and the fact that he is well-spoken (something I vehemently disagree with..dumming myself down doesn’t make me black, it makes me stupid), and not white enough by some of white America. McCain plays the race card by claiming that Barack Obama is playing the race card and, when it fails, he equates him to notorious celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (who are both famous for being rich and/or bad behavior). Abroad he is already being treated like he is the president with people showing up in droves to hear what he has to say. I wonder if George W. thinks of this. It is likely that after 8 years of inarticulate sentences and incredibly ignorant statements, people are just relieved to be able to listen to something that doesn’t incense them with it’s blatant disregard for the plight of the people who work everyday and have to listen to those with more money extol them to ‘work hard to better themselves’!
He has inspired us to make a change instead of waiting for a change. We can do whatever we aspire to. He has shown us that it is possible. Happy birthday, Barack Obama, and thank you for showing us that it is possible to achieve your dreams.