2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
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Colleen SImard
2/25/08 Winnipeg Free Press a11

I'VE got Obama fever.

The realization came while huddled in a frozen car, listening to the radio about the Democratic primaries. I've never had more than a passing interest in American politics.

It doesn't make sense. An aboriginal woman -- a Canadian -- cheering for Barack Obama. I can't vote for him; I don't even live in his country. But it doesn't stop my smug grin when I heard he's gradually gained ground on Senator Hillary Clinton.

Both are good candidates for the job, but my feminist side has been trumped by my minority self; the possibility of a black man becoming the next U.S. president holds far more opportunity for change.

I've got it bad, people.

Because of Obama, I've listened to experts debate the pros and cons of the young Illinois senator, compared to Clinton's more defined experience. I read the New York Times more often. I've watched Obama speeches and videos on YouTube and been to his website.

Maybe it's because I can relate to him better. Being culturally mixed -- half white and half black -- Obama confessed to struggling with racism in school, experimenting with drugs and having difficulties finding his identity.

He may even have Native American roots thanks to his Kansas-born mother.

Some commentators have said Obama's popularity is because he's like a blank slate -- on which we can push our own ideals, beliefs and characteristics. Blank? I think not. How can a man be a blank slate, yet have enough life experience to write a best-selling memoir at the tender age of 34.

Sure, detractors have said he's not experienced, but give him time. Obama is all about possibilities. He holds a promise of greatness ahead of him. Nobody can deny that.

Some have compared Obama to the holy grail of past U.S. presidents -- John F. Kennedy. He's the Camelot president I've only known through history books, stirring speeches and grainy news clips. It must have been a heady time. Could Obama be our generation's JFK? Only time will tell.

Obama is the seed that can spark change in how high up the rung we minorities can climb, not just in politics, but life in general. We can talk the talk, but now we can walk the walk, too. Equality for all.

A black president means the U.S. is run from a viewpoint that's undeniably compassionate to the needs of all. Minorities can truly stand on equal ground with a majority that's been in power since the country was founded.

And Obama carries not just the hope of his people -- or the hope to heal the mighty American nation that's faltered and become divided in the last few years. Obama carries a hope for minorities everywhere -- our people included.

In a way, when I cheer for Obama I'm cheering for my people's future, too.

If a black president is possible, then it is also possible for an aboriginal girl and boy to grow up strong and become prime minister of Canada. Imagine that is within reach.

What a day it will be.



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