cross-posted to Jack & Jill Politics
This morning, I was finally able to process my emotions and express them as words. Here is what I wrote for the UK's Independent newspaper
We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us. We rejected fear
comment by Baratunde Thurston, Thursday 6 November 2008
I cannot stop crying. I am stunned. Barack Obama is the next president of the United States of America, and I cannot stop crying. America closed the deal. Yes, we did. It is hard to focus right now. My mind is traveling sporadically through space and time. Large moments and small are mixing.
I am in South Dallas, Texas, being hugged by the elderly black election judge I met during the primaries. I am six years old and have just learnt to swim. I am cheering with my Dominican barbers. I am being called a nigger by white children on a camping trip in my youth. I am standing on Goree Island in Senegal, the final resting place of so many of my ancestors and the birthplace of my own possibility.
I am shaking Barack Obama's hand in August 2006. I am trembling at my mother's bedside moments after she passed away in October 2005. I am exhausted. I am restless. I am America. This is happening. We shook the world. We won. Last night, at five past 11, a collective roar made its way across living rooms and restaurants and the streets of cities and towns. Strangers sought each other out to hug one another and share in this moment.
At my own watch party, chants of "Yes we can!" gave way to chants of "Holy shit", and the transformational nature of the moment was sealed when I gave my New York City cab-driver an Obama button and he gave me a free ride.
And what a ride this has been. The manner of this campaign is as important as its ultimate outcome. Grassroots organising met peer-to-peer networked technologies, learned from old school campaigning and was remixed through new school art. And it won. We won! Our new president. Our new president, Barack Hussein Obama, truly represents us, America and the world.
He is Kenya and Hawaii. He is Chicago and Kansas, and through his gifts, his timing and his good fortune, we have risen to a great occasion. This campaign was a fire that forged a president and a people, and we have emerged stronger for the trial. It is not simply that we chose an African American or a Democrat for our first post-baby boom leader, although those are all significant milestones.
It is not simply that we chose a communicator and scholar and a man who so clearly demonstrates family values through the love and respect he shows his wife and daughters, although those too are significant milestones. It is not simply that we chose, but also that we rejected.
We rejected smears and race-baiting and Muslim-baiting and desperation. We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us to the way things have been and are supposed to be. We rejected fear. Most importantly, we rejected fear.
Our better angels prevailed for one critical moment which can and will change forever the moments to follow. We said resoundingly that we are not afraid. We are not afraid of the world out there. We are not afraid of ourselves.
In rejecting that fear, we have shed something awful, at least for a time, and in so doing we have liberated ourselves. I am still crying, but they are tears of possibility for all that we are free to do and free to be. Yes, we did.