Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Historic Inauguration: Looking Southward with Envy

This is inauguration post that I wrote for Global Comment

In Canada we have socialized medicine, same gender marriage is legal, and though we have a disparity between rich and poor it does not come close to the separation in the United States. Our rate of violent crime is also significantly lower.

What we do not have and what we desperately need is a man like Barack Obama. We do not have that one polarizing figure in Canadian politics.

There is no one challenging us to participate in our society for the sake of the greater good. There is no one whose body represents a great change to the status quo.

We remain the great white North. Our “multicultural society” is still represented by whiteness and though racism is definitely an issue, we have a tendency to focus on language and culture differences between French and English speaking Canadians. We are the great salad bowl; the mix that never integrates. The fact that our country is understood as white is certainly not deemed problematic, after all racism is something that only happens south of the border, we tell ourselves.

When Barack Obama becomes president his body will stand as an example of just how far African Americans have come. To blacks all over the world it will signify that despite the ways in which whiteness has constructed our bodies as less than, that we are capable, and intelligent. Globally blacks are among some of the world’s poorest citizens. We have been enslaved, had our lands stolen from us, been forced to mine precious jewels and minerals for the profit of others , undereducated, imprisoned, murdered and forced to watch as our women and children were raped and beaten. We remain a colonized people in a so-called free world.

Blacks from Kenya, to Great Britain, to Nunavut, will watch him take the oath office and experience a sense of validation and worth that the world has often tried to deny us

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