My Op Ed In The Independent Of London On Obama And Black America


cross-posted to Jack and Jill Politics

Wednesday morning I got a call from the UK asking if I would write an editorial about the significance of Barack Obama's nomination in Black America. I find it hard to resist that crisp British accent and made room to compose my thoughts.

The piece has been published in print and online under the title Baratunde Thurston: I used to be cynical about my country. No longer...

Not quite the headline I'd have chosen, but pretty accurate. In the piece,  I share a story for the first time from my experience with the Obama campaign in Dallas and write about the power and limits of symbolism.

Here's an excerpt
Despite our sacrifices – fighting in wars and paying taxes – we are constantly reminded we're not full members of the club. Yet, Barack Obama made me feel American. He has, and this is really quite annoying, made me care enough to get more involved.

His early opposition to the war, the grass-roots nature of his campaign, and his habit of speaking in grammatically correct sentences have all helped. His very composition from white Kansan and black African parents tells a story that is authentically American. Beyond him, however, the reaction of the American people best demonstrates Obama's impact.

For black America, the defining moment occurred on 3 January, when Obama won in overwhelmingly white Iowa. It was a sign that things in this country were changing. Although Obama is the nominee, the path ahead won't be easy. People still ask, "Is America ready for a black president?" That's the wrong question. America has never been "ready" to extend its ideals to all of its citizens without being pushed. Was America "ready" for emancipation or women's suffrage or Simon Cowell? No, but we've got them now and in two of those three cases, we are much better for it.

Check out the full editorial at their fancy British website!