Monday, November 03, 2008

A Change is Coming

When I visited Malaysia with my family earlier this year, a topic of discussion that quickly came up as we ate our first meal together was Barack Obama. My uncle, in particular, seemed fascinated by Obama and wondered whether or not he could really become President of the United States.

Though it was pretty apparent by then that Obama would win the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton, I was quickly singled out among our American contingent as the one who firmly supported him. The inevitable question came from my aunt.


I paused before responding because I didn't want to give a lofty answer that wasn't substantive or might cause eye-rolling among certain others sitting at the table. Even though I certainly wanted to say I believed Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime candidate, an inspirational figure who might change the direction of our country for the better.

So I looked at my aunt straight in the eye and said, "Because I think he sends the right message to the rest of the world." I looked around the table and continued. "I think he represents that we're capable of doing better things, and I'm not sure other countries believe that about us right now."

Was that answer any less lofty than I'd intended? Probably not. And I certainly could have gone on for at least another 10 minutes. But it drew seemingly approving nods from my relatives. Eventually, however, one of them said, "I don't know if America will elect a black man."

Now, she wasn't talking about all Americans. But doesn't it bother you that people in other parts of the world think that about us? That we could still be so narrow-minded, and led by our prejudices? What better way could there be to dispel that belief?

Tomorrow, everything could change. Finally. And the world will begin to notice for all the right reasons. This could be historic.