Monday, November 03, 2008

On the Election: Some thoughts from an American in Tanzania

From my friend Emily Morris, Arts Educator, Global Citizen, Agent-of Change in Tanzania:
(Following her words, you'll find the provocative "What if?" list of questions that challenge all of us regarding the way Racism plays a part in our political perceptions and discernment.)

"It is incredible to be watching the American elections from Tanzania, close to where Obama's father was from...where my neighbors are named Barak (meaning blessings in Kiswahili and Arabic)...and where people are still shocked that a half-Kenyan man could have made it this far in the US. I remain hopeful for Tuesday, and my Tanzanian friends say..."don't get your hopes up Emma...the US may not really ready for a man that is in heritage both black and white, Christian and Muslim, African and American, humble and strong...who worked his way up with a fight."

Every day I look at Tanzanian women my age...smarter than I but who didn't have resources to finish secondary school. They could have lived different lives if they were born into my shoes..a white girl from the US. Here 120 kids cram into one classroom...pushing and shoving their way to get an education. And yet despite our privilege and resources, we Americans still fear being diverse, internationally well-traveled, driven, intellectual, articulate, well-read and multicultural. Obama has achieved all these things...without eating off the silver plate. He had to not only prove his capacities to himself - but the skeptics and all those people uncomfortable with his multi everythingness. If this isn't a race could McCain/Palin still be competition?

I have tried to explain to my colleagues and friends here the critiques they hear on the in America a plumber like Joe could have access to triple digit money and become the icon for wanting to reduce poverty makes one a having Muslim family questions one's "goodness"...and I am embarrassed to even repeat these viewpoints from my fellow citizens.. Instead I try to reassure them that Barak made it where he is today because his story is like so many other Americans..and that his victory will not be a miracle, but a day long overdue. He is not lucky, he is what is possible in America.

I will be waking to the call to prayer here on Wed. and turning on my TV to watch the final polls come in. I am already saying my prayers that the day will be full of blessings...where we can finally start seeing things in color instead of black and white.

Peace...and I promise to send some Tanzanian stories and photos of hope to come.


What If....?

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said "I do" to?

What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5? (please see article below for more information re: what Keating Five is).

What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

You are The Boss... which team would you hire?

With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc.

Educational Background:
Obama: Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Magna Cum Laude
Biden: University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctorate J.D.)


McCain: United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Palin: Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study University of Idaho - 2 semesters.
Journalism Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester.
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism


Marie Teehan said...

Let's hope it is a new day in "purple" America. Marie

Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus said...

Thanks Melissa! What a thoughtful, eloquent woman. It was fascinating to read this, made me think back to our days in Iran--different, yet similar, issues to explain.

Take care,

Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus

"Be an opener of doors . . . " Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Brian Grandison said...

Thank you for the perspective of someone living outside the box. I will pass this on so some other folk I know can sift through the wisdom your friend has offered up.

Take care! God bless!

later, me