As a person of African descent I am proud of the atmosphere of this year’s election. The face of American leadership may soon change. Growing up in a region where people who look like me have held the reins of power, it seems confusing to me that the same had not been mirrored in the United States. Traditionally, U.S. presidents have been White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS). Tradition was first broken when John F. Kennedy became president. He was the first president to be a Catholic. Tradition continues to be defied, as Sen. Barack Obama becomes the first Black person in America’s history to have a fair chance at becoming president of the United States of America.
The United States epitomizes hope. Every citizen is taught to dream that regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic background, you can achieve anything. Sen. Obama personifies the American dream.
The question “Are people voting for Obama simply because of his race?” has always loomed in the shadows of people’s minds. This question has now taken prominence as Obama’s dissenters try rationalizing the nationwide popularity that Obama has, which has been translated into a nine point lead ahead of John McCain, according to the Daily Gallup Poll.
The notion that Obama’s supporters are simply making an emotional decision, rather than an intellectual one, is not true. The recent endorsement of Obama by former Secretary of State (2001-2005) Gen. Colin Powell is proof of this. Powell, a Republican, broke away from his party to endorse Sen. Obama, calling him a “transformational figure.”
The question that never comes up, however, is “Are people voting for John McCain simply because he is white?” The answer to this is a resounding yes.
There are those who cling tightly to tradition and are fearful of the “change” which is in the air. Businesses have refused to cater to Obama’s supporters, who are predominantly Black. This is a throwback to the U.S. Jim Crow laws.
Making the assumption that all Obama’s supporters are voting simply because of his race is an insult to the intellect of the man. Obama brings to the political arena an extensive academic resume’; Columbia and Harvard Law School graduate, in addition to being proactive in attending to the plight of the downtrodden when he became a community organizer.
This mission of serving the interests of others was continued when he became a civil rights lawyer. His political career may not be as extensive as his opponent’s, but he is qualified enough as neither of the candidates possesses the requisite experience to be president of the United States. The only person who can claim complete experience is someone who has previously been president (and even then, that experience is questionable). Obama is intelligent, eloquent and informed about the issues and policies relevant to the American people. He just happens to be Black, something different. Isn’t it time for a “Change?