Yesterday, everyone witnessed a historic night. Whether you were a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or just apathetic, you witnessed history is some shape or form. Some went to election parties, others stayed glued to their televisions and the Internet, but everyone will always remember where they were the night Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America.
I chose to stay home, because I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to see Barack take down state after state, battleground state after battleground state. I wanted to hear the pundits talk about the implications of the event, and form my own opinions of what the day meant for me. I wanted to feel the experience live from my living room.
Plain and simple, yesterday proved to me that the dynamics of America is evolving. I don’t claim to be a political pundit, sociologist, or ethnographer, but to me, it remains blatantly obvious that the demographic shift has started to begin.
Yesterday was particularly inspirational to me, as an African-American male, who had the unique experience of Interning during Obama’s re-election as State Senator and successful campaign as U.S. Senator. Although I was no David Axelrod, but more of a typical Intern, at the beginning stages I was first drawn to Barack from his unbelievable speaking ability although my first experience with Barack was as a young college student, pledging a fraternity (that I didn’t even join), but helping out one of the fraternity guys, who was working for Barack.
We had to run door to door to get petitions signed and I and the other guy pledging had to stand in front of Walgreens on 55th Street for several hours, trying to get patrons of Walgreens to sign on for Barack. Not an easy task back then, which wasn’t that long ago. We heard derogatory remarks about his name, people in his own community didn’t know who he was, so they refused to sign the petitions. We had literature outlining his platform and a short script on what he had done, but for every 15 people that walked in, we maybe got 1 signature.
I ended up finishing my stint with the fraternity guys and ran into Barack at the East Bank Club, a club where he frequently works out and shoots hoops. I re-introduced myself to him and he told me he had some big political opportunities coming up and I should get involved. That’s all I needed to hear and I was on board. I never thought in a million years that I’d be involved in politics in any capacity, and who knows, I may have never gotten involved if it was anyone else. But Barack was a leader, someone I could look up to, someone I could follow. So I did. One of the best decisions that I have made in my life.
Even back then when we went door to door in the Beverly neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Barack had that “it” factor about him. I saw him for the first time when we were going to door to door, he stepped out of a new black Jeep Cherokee, and he exuded polish and confidence, as if he knew he was going to accomplish a great deal. Many doors didn’t open for him despite all the confidence in the world.
I remember the press conferences we tried to throw, where no press showed up. I wrote several press releases, and faxed it to as many politicians in Chicago, and to every media outlet possible. We had to stage several events to make it seem like press was there. Even one of his biggest announcements where he denounced the war on Iraq with an oversized blank check to signify that America was going to be spending absurd amounts of money, which ended up being the case over several orders of magnitude. Despite the big announcement, two press representatives showed up, but they left before the press conference began, because a whale was having a baby at the Shedd Aquarium. Yes, a baby whale.
I brought in those anecdotal experiences to say that Obama wasn’t the richest, most well known, most well-liked (even by some African-Americans), and not necessarily the most organized in the beginning. But he had the one thing he can control, effort. This gave me chills all night when watching CNN. For the first time that I can ever remember, an African-American male was being celebrated in the media, all around the world, not as an entertainer, not as an athlete, but as a brilliant, tactical, intelligent, and educated African-American man who has achieved something that nobody thought was possible. There are tons of other successful African American men out there, but never before on this kind of stage. I’m really proud that America made the right decision, He’s an inspiration for me moving forward, and as Kevin Garnett yelled out, Anything is possible. Even more now than ever. Yes We Can is my new American dream. The idea that no matter your skin color, sexual preference, disability, impediment, religion, you can achieve great things. Yes we can achieve great things.