Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Senator of Illinois

I lived in Illinois from 1980-1983. Entering grade 8 when my family first moved down, we lived in a town called Naperville, about half an hour train ride from the Loop in Chicago. My twin sister and I spent our first two years at highschool in the neighbouring town of Lisle. The highschool was Catholic and private. One of the friends I met in the first term that autumn of 1981was a guy named Joe. As an African-American, he was one of the few visible minorities who attended the highschool. After Christmas, I didn't see him anywhere and I asked Cristina, my best friend at the time, where Joe was, had she seen him? She told me he'd quit and left. I couldn't for the life of me understand why. Cristina is Filipino herself and she explained, "the racist comments - he couldn't take it anymore." I remember feeling stunned. In my naivete and at my young age, I always pictured the Southern states as being the areas with that kind of problem.

I am thinking about Joe tonight. I am wondering what he's thinking, what he's feeling tonight. I just drove home from watching an amazing piece of history unfold.

Senator Barack Obama of the State of Illinois has just been elected the 44th President of the United States of America. He is the first African-American president to ever be elected.

I first saw him maybe 3 years ago on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. He was hilarious, witty and spoke so astutely of the Iraq war. The show was promoting his book, Dreams From My Father. I bought the book shortly thereafter and loved it. Obama's writing was so frank and clear, honest, open and heartfelt. Ever since, I've tracked with growing interest the fact that he was touted to be the next possible president.

I feel elated tonight. The last two elections in 2000 and 2004 were literally stolen right from under Gore and Kerry's noses and proof has shown since, quite illegally so.

Witnessing tonight's democratic victory was, simply put, incredible and awe-inspiring. I am thrilled to be carrying a baby who will enter the world where such a man as Senator Obama will be the new Leader of the Free World, the man heading up our world's biggest Superpower.

My twin sister was with me today at my initial midwife appointment where I was able to hear for the very first time my baby's heartbeat. It was so good and strong inside my womb, a nice high count of 170 bpm.

Tonight, watching the election to the South unfold, she told me she was carrying her first child when 9/11 happened. She said how terrified she felt, for herself, her child, her family, her country, for the entire world. She thought it was World War III starting. Of course, we live in the hemisphere where bombs don't hit the ground every day and innocent people do not become collateral damage on a daily basis. Still, I can't imagine the fear she went through and what kind of world she thought her first baby would encounter.

So I feel blessed to have witnessed this awesome event in my lifetime and at this stage of my life. I crawl into bed tonight and touch my belly and feel so much Hope for the planet, for my own country, for our neighbours to the South, for the baby in my womb.

I am so thankful, Barack Obama, that you had the audacity of hope to make your own dream and the dream of your country and its people manifest. You are part of a global dream for many people and the myriad of countries around the world who celebrate with you and your family tonight and applaud your victory. You have given me and my growing baby hope that change in the world can happen, the kinds of change that are needed and a vision and promise of a better world with it.

Can we change the world for the better?
Yes we can! We just did. And we will...

Music: Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday

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