VINUTHA MALLYA writes: Amidst the victory cheers, liberal Americans are shining proud to the rest of the world. Finally, America is walking the democracy talk.
The president-elect symbolises a shift in American politics. Even John McCain has asked all Americans to be proud of their citizenship for electing the first black president.
A Japanese city has thrown a party because it is the president-elect’s namesake. ‘Obama for Obama’ they screamed and celebrated. Kenya declared a national holiday because Barack Obama’s father was Kenyan. The ‘native son’ has put Kenya on a whole new map.
If the status lines of my fellow Indians on Facebook™ and instant messenger programs are anything to go by, a Martian would easily mistake Obama to have been elected India’s president! Pratibha Patil, India’s first woman president, had not received such adulation from the H1-in-waiting urban Indian.
Apparently, when America goes to polls, the constituents are not Americans alone, but most of the rest of the world too!
It should not be long before someone campaigns for non-American citizens to be given the right to vote.
Despite the unquestioned acceptance that the president of the US of A is the leader of the ‘free world’, this victory of the ‘under-dog’ has given a cause for hope to Americans and non-Americans alike.
However, is Obama’s victory a testimony to the beginning of the end of racism?
Or is it merely a display of another facet of it?
What makes a half-white man black? Is it his looks (lean, angular contours, but not pale-white enough) or his middle name (Hussein, not a white name by any measure) which makes him more black than white? Add a Kenyan father and a few years of living in Indonesia to the mix, and all the whiteness is stripped off!
For a man whose mother was white, who didn’t have much to do with his black father, who grew up mostly in the care of his white grandparents, and who had an Ivy-league education, wasn’t the ‘black’ platform his best bet to contest the election?
In distancing himself from his white heritage, and holding on to his black identity, Obama, and indeed America, has sent another message to the world.
Looking at the glass from the half-empty end one can see that a half-white is never a white, but a half-black is only black. It will be a few more decades before we will ever know if the US of A could truly pass the test of democracy and elect the blackest of black men to be president, and not because he was black, but despite it.
Racism is still alive and kicking in the most powerful democracy in the world, and will continue to be, until it stops mattering whether Obama or his successors are black or white. Michael Jackson’s hope for a miracle might just come true then.
Illustration: courtesy Gabi Campanario/ The Seattle Sketcher