November 4th, 2008. I felt it. In the early morning before the sunrise, I felt it. A cold brisk wind. The eve before such a mountain-high moment in time and I felt this chilly persistent wind. In the midst of the frost, I knew what was to happen later that day. It was time to vote for the new President of the United States of America.
On January 20th, 2009, I felt it again. In the same early morning time period before the sun made itself known, I felt it once more. That familiar cold brisk wind. The eve before another skyscraper-sized section of history and I feel the chill again. In the blowing breeze, I knew what the day was going to bring later on. It was time for that one I voted for to take his rightful place as President of the United States of America.
On the first time and on the second, I named this chill “The Winds of Change”. It felt appropriate to name those arctic vents in that manner with the culmination of Barack Obama’s high-minded ambitions. His storybook-like ascension to the highest office in the land had me dancing in the sky. I mean, it was like some lore or legend like King Arthur or something. The man birthed from a Black father from Kenya and a White mother from Kansas…Who with the manna of Hawaii came to a town he never knew seeking to help the downtrodden…The one who dedicated himself to all rose like a volcano through the ranks until he claimed his destined title ‘President’. A uniquely American manifest destiny that stretches from the log cabin of Lincoln to the house of Camelot, the fulfillment of a national prophecy forged in the blood of Civil War and dreamt by a King named Martin.
His exotic background through a mother with an atmospheric love for humanity raising him in foreign lands gained familiarity from rooted grandparents and his grounded future wife. A man who appears as the bridge where we cross all of our divides. The inspiration who we attach our dreams and aspirations. Our political Superman who bears the iconic symbol on his chest and saves the day. God may have the whole world in His hands but our President certainly has that whole world on his shoulders.
So much is riding on the future of our new President, whose administration begins in the shadow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. It is obvious what effect the first Black President has and will have on the Black community from young to old. In the old, the long struggle for equality in this great land of promise creates relieved tears and disbelieving cheers upon seeing ripe and tangible fruit of progress through the election process. The centenarians who saw so much progress over 100 years are able to see their heavens with the earthly knowledge that things have truly changed. In the young, the image of this First Family exalts an exemplary example that demands to be modeled in the foremost. The impressionable 5-year olds who want to be like the Obamas when they grow up. The championing of ignorant self-destructive behavior is leaving the realm of Vogue to the netherworlds of Passé. Mediocrity has no measure and more than ever before we must live up to our own excellence.
But the view of Blacks will change not only within their community, but in the eyes of all ethnic communities that make up this diverse country. And from this so will our view of others. It goes beyond our nation obviously. The impact the Obama Presidency will have on the world has gravity heavier than the pull of Planet Jupiter. A town in Japan celebrates its ancient name because it matches the last name of the new U.S. President. A remote village in Kenya is beside itself with glee at the achievement of one their descendants. In Germany, a enthusiastic crowd of over 200,000 gathered together to hear “Der Schwarze JFK” speak. Citizens in Hong Kong pose by wax figures of the President with broad optimistic smiles. Shamans in Peru bless the picture of our President alongside images of other cherished figures, including Michael Jackson. A Caribbean nation renames their greatest mountain in honor of the new Leader of the Free World. The contentious areas in West Asia hope his middle name Hussein opens the door to even-handed dialogue and renewed diplomacy towards the region. The view of America in total will be renewed under the Presidency of Barack Obama in every aspect.
But how can he remain so calm and collected with this weighty knowledge loading his dome? He seems fearless and ready for the challenge. Not a lick of stage fright in the face of so many serious crises. Me? I find myself erupting with uncontainable excitement. Sometimes I just need to yell in a crazed joy, pump my fists wildly and forcefully in the air, and catch my breath with a sudden hand over my mouth and hint of tears. Flipping every channel, clicking every site, turning to every station at a frenzied pace trying to experience every single moment of this history in the making (impossible task!). But he is unshakable, unflinching, unafraid of the gargantuan challenge before him.
Imagine how the kids in school will react as they watch this one-of-a-kind moment play out on their television screens. Imagine the anguish of the people imprisoned at work if they are forced to miss this event for the sake of the job, or lack of financials. Imagine the commuters on the road pulling over in tears upon hearing the changing of the guard on the radio. Imagine the cell phone texts and messages tasking the satellites’ capacity. Imagine the neighborhoods online, local and global. The world awaits the promise of Obama with hopeful eyes.
After the symbolic train ride from old capital Philadelphia to new capital Washington D.C., after the ceremonies, after the pageantry and parades, after the balls and galas, President Barack Hussein Obama II begins his quest to match the legacies of Reagan, Kennedy, the Roosevelts, Lincoln, and Washington. To mirror the breakthrough of Mandela from South Africa nearly 2 decades ago in his own fragmented land. The Winds of Change are blowing like the calm before every storm. It will be a turbulent journey for sure, but I know the sturdy vessel known as the United States of America will ultimately survive the maelstrom. Steer us well, Mr. President. Steer us well.