Barack Obama fits none of the stereotypes world has
of black Americans.
The closer and closer the election gets, the more terrified
Obama must have a terrible weight on his shoulders.
want to write about Barack Obama, but I find myself thinking
a lot about Toussaint LOuverture.
Toussaint who dared to think that he had a right to be in
control of his own destiny.
Toussaint who did what no-one thought was possible.
We all know, or at least were supposed to know, the
story of Haiti, even as now Haitians languish in 200 years
of punishment for the sheer farseness of thinking that they
could rule themselves.
Toussaint, the revolutionary, the great black hope, who
died in a French prison. Haiti, that great statement of
fight that was forced to pay reparations to France for the
loss of their most lucrative colony.
In the past few weeks, in a flurry of e-mails sent back
and forth around the world, in the din of endless debates
and polls and reports and never-ending coverage, Ive
been thinking about Toussaint.
What would it mean to this region to have a black man as
President of the United States of America?
What would it mean for a region that has so consistently
since Independence been disappointed by leaders, African,
Indian, European and in-between?
In truth, we havent had much luck with people who
look like us. In fact in many cases, the people who look
like us have turned out to be even worse colonials than
the colonials themselves.
Its a peculiar and troubling time to be black in Trinidad,
in the world. And Im not on any victim trip, but Jah,
why is it that were still so uncomfortable with talking
about race? We daily refuse to acknowledge the thing that
is most used to divide us.
African-Americans are overcome with hope. Its a huge
deal for them because theres never ever been a black
President of the USA. They want it so badly, they can taste
it. They dont know like we do that its possible
for your leader to look like you and still jam you with
dry pommecythere seed.
The problem with Obama is that he fits none of the stereotypes
that the world has of black America. Hes not a rabble-rouser,
or thug gangsta, hes no jive-talking mofo. And so
perhaps he is more dangerous, because the possibility in
his eyes is infectious.
Perhaps if he werent so near the ideal image of a
dignified, well-spoken, determined black man Id be
more comfortable with him.
I would not invest any emotion in him. My heart wouldnt
skip a beat at the beginning of a debate as if it was Brian
Laras wicket I was terrified of being taken by the
dreadest of the Australian spinners.
I dont want to like him just because hes a black
man, in the same way that I dont want to like Hillary
Clinton because shes a woman.
Those characteristics dont necessarily a great leader
make. I almost dont want to make myself like him,
because I dont think I would be able to take it if
he turned out to be a disappointment in any form.
The closer and closer it gets, the more terrified I get.
That theyll try to kill him. That hell turn
out to be a huge disappointment. That hell try very
hard but the neo-cons and the big business massas will undermine
his ability to make a difference. Because in America, just
like in Trinidad, its not just the President thats
running the country, but the people with the paper.
The problem is that Obama will inherit a civilisation in
decline. On the brink of collapse and of course it will
all be the black mans fault.
I fear that the people who want things to remain the way
they are will not permit someone like Obama to survive.
Or maybe the time has really come where even a black man
can get a bligh.
We would all really like for Obama to be the one. To make
us love America again. To make things okay again. To see
Martin Luther Kings much bandied dream come to light
Barack Obama must have a terrible weight on his shoulders,
to return hope to a generation of men and women who have
known more disappointment than is reasonable, given our
lack of chains and our wealth of resources.
Who are tired of martyrs and even more tired of sell-outs.