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What the world has been waiting for…

Congratulations to Barack Hussein Obama II, the first African-American and 44th President of the United States of America.

So much has been said about Obama it is almost unreal. The result still feels unreal. The majority of the world wanted it to happen, although many, including me did not believe it could happen! At his birth, in many states Black people still could not vote, or even have legal public relationships with White people, so much has been achieved in half a lifetime it is astounding.

This is not only a victory for the Black community, it is a victory for those who believe they can achieve no matter where they come from. It is inspirational and comes in the week Lewis Hamilton, F1’s first Black driver, won his first Championship. All of this proves what can be achieved if you strive to be the best in what you choose to do.

Poster image courtesy of www.barackobama.com

What this shows us is that Hope is a powerful force, one that has driven Obama to the White House. Hope will also send shock waves throughout the world…’Why not here?” is a question I have heard asked on a daily basis for the past month at least! In the UK, we have no one nearly as charismatic as Obama and former Conservative party leader Michael Howard’s Romanian ancestry, is as ethnic as our leaders get! In the Philippines, we are crying out for change, we live in hope for the realization of the people’s revolution with a people’s leader. We need a President elected for being the best one for the job, not just the most popular. Will we see a future Prime Minister born the child of an immigrant? Will we see a Filipino President not born amongst the Filipino elite but has earned their right to run and win by simply being the best?

These are questions people far more educated and far more knowledgeable than me cannot answer.

Will Barack Obama be the man we believe and hope him to be?

His campaign was sound but as with all leaders, his comments and policies will always be questioned. From a British point of view, he wants more British troops in Afghanistan, not a popular request but maybe a necessary one if he is to reduce the American ground troops there, from a Filipino point of view he has spoken about the “the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country.” Referring to outsourcing, which is the Philippines biggest meal ticket since the first Filipino flew overseas to become a nurse or work in a hotel! Again not popular, but it is a quote many in the Philippines have latched onto waiting to see if it was campaigning propaganda or not. These are issues he will have to make tough decisions about.

He is the most globally exposed Leader in American history, Kenyan father, American mother, grew up and educated in Hawaii and Indonesia, that’s already exposure to three continents that he has had no control over. Yet he has expressed a distinct protectionist stance. He embodies the global citizen and globalization is a concept America has been embracing perhaps too much for their own people’s liking.

He has also been criticized for many things, admitting to using drugs in his youth, having an Islamic name, potentially turning America into a socialist state, very narrow minded I think you’ll agree, yet the most narrow minded thing I heard came from a very, very small minority of his own people. They allege he is not one of them as he was not the descendant of slaves brought to America and so cannot relate and has not been held back as much as they have. This made me angry, as it is these exact people, who hold themselves and others back, making excuses for their own inadequacy and making others feel it is ok to do nothing.

Picture below is courtesy of the blog of Sportswatch columnist Neil Best. Please click on the picture to follow the link to the story. PG cannot be held responsible for any material viewed on those pages.

It also reminds me of the Philippines, I am not considered a true Filipino as I am not ‘pure Filipino’, or because I am not fluent in Filipino, again very narrow minded views. Remember, Spanish surnames did not originate in the Philippines. Which brings up the notion of identity, what socio-political-economic factors make up an African-American? Or is it based on just being Black and American? The search for national identity continues amongst Filipinos globally and in the Philippines to this day, with people debating whether we should change the name of the country. An option is Bayanihan (Community, in Filipino), with citizens called Bayani’s (Heroes, in Filipino). But I digress.

I recently read that the Asian-American population were apparently split into two camps. The first camp are those who assimilated themselves into American culture by embracing American culture in all aspects of life, both positive and negative. This includes the alleged American prejudice against African-Americans and all the associated stereo-types. This is made up of largely the first generation and those who were brought up with certain ideals and moral codes. The second camp are those who realize this is wrong and have grown up as equals with every ethnicity imaginable. They also refuse to accept that by simply agreeing with the most common American views and ideals will result in them being accepted and offered greater opportunities by the Americans who have let them into their country. They, unsurprisingly, are made up of a majority of younger voters.

It is about achieving more than is offered to you, not simply holding out your bowl asking for more.

In any case, Obama’s grandmother still lives in a village in Kenya, my grandmother still lives in a village in the Philippines, so what’s the difference? Only geography. The point here is that ethnicity is not holding us back, only the limit we impose on ourselves. Should I have studied harder? Could I have achieved more? Will I now achieve more? If the grandson of a Kenyan villager can become the most powerful man in the world, what can my children achieve?

These are questions we should be asking ourselves, as the reason a lot of people use for not achieving more, is the lack of opportunities because ‘I am not White’. President Barack Hussein Obama II has inspirationally proved that that is a myth. If a Christian Black man with an Islamic name can lead the ‘Free World’, then a Christian Filipino with a Hispanic/European name can…

By Adrian Williams

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