Caribbean: Yes, They Did!

Barack Obama‘s historic win in the US Presidential election was as much the Caribbean‘s as it was America's and regional bloggers still have not come down from Cloud 9

Arubagirl dubbed the occasion a “happy day”, the significance of which was not lost on diaspora blogger Signifying Guyana:

Now it's real. America has elected its first Black president. And I hope many more like John Lewis, who were resilient in the face of a brutality that sought to deny them their basic human rights, are still around to cry and bear witness to this moment that is so full of America's cruel past, and its potentially healing present.

Her compatriots back home, however, were not as prepared to accept America's presidential choice as a positive step. Guyana 911 said:

I'm starting to get a little bad feeling about Obama. I am pretty confident that if McCain had a competent running mate it would of been a different tune tonight…to each his own I guess. What I'm trying to say is if Obama was a white man…people wouldn't have voted as shallowly in some cases. A fault with a democracy I suppose. It's a step in some sort of direction, however. Maybe the next time a black and a white man come up head to head it's just going to be on the issues.

Living Guyana didn't see what the big deal was and focused his attention on whether Obama, “as a sitting US president, will visit Guyana”:

He will have four years to do it. Will he? Or will he just ignore us as all other US presidents (save for Jimmy Carter) have?

Jamaican diaspora blogger Geoffrey Philp, however, was of the firm opinion that “the election of Barack Hussein Obama to the highest office in the country has…changed the course of history”:

On many levels, Mr. Obama's election has meant a change in the way we think about each other. Many white Americans have had to put aside their fears of race retribution and their doubts that an African American had the intellectual acumen for the presidency. Within the African American community, there is a sense of triumph and euphoria–one of their own has risen from the nightmare of slavery, racism, and segregation to realize the theme encoded in the so-called “Negro Spirituals”—the dream of freedom.

And yet as revolutionary as Mr. Obama's election appears, there is also something profoundly traditional in the choice that is steeped in American values…Mr. Obama's presidency is symbolic of the change we desire. But as my Sunday school teacher used to say, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ And as Mr. Obama early in the campaign reminded us, ‘This election is not about me, it's about you.’ How much were we willing to give up, sacrifice, to become better versions of ourselves?

Well, we've taken the first step. But this change won't be easy.

Idle Yout Speeks agreed that Obama was “the best man for the job”, while Moppet waxed poetic about the fact that she could witness this day “in (her) sons’ lifetime”:

Nobody's stereotype; America's ambition.

Obama is calmer than calm itself.

Realization of MLK's impossible dream.

Obama is vital, absolutely alive.
God bless him. God guide him. God grant him an’ Biden wisdom.
God love him. It's impossible not to love him.

Abeng News Magazine‘s Kwame McPherson also thought Obama was poetry in motion, while was quick to congratulate Obama and Biden on their win:

President Obama is definitely fresh, with a global background and global view that will serve to bolster his commitment to bring about change in Washington.

Jamaicans in the US have primarily backed the Obama / Joe Biden campaign and have been quite organized and outspoken, making sure to spread the word and positively impact the outcome.

Jamaicans are extremely proud of President Barack Obama and are thrilled by the success of their efforts in supporting what is the most exiting phenomenon that has appeared on the political scene in decades.

The magnitude of the moment was not lost on Long Bench, who was actually at Chicago's Grant Park:

What a moment. What a speech. What a speech. What depth of character. What a quality person. What a long time for the 106 year old woman from Atlanta to wait for someone of this caliber to step into the role of leader of this United States of America. How could anyone not want this man to be the person who represents them and acts on their behalf on the world stage? He even recognized his non-supporters and did not demonize them – what a display of grace and humility!

I was so moved by the whole thing, I could seriously even imagine myself living here in this city. America seems almost tolerable again. And you know what else? As I listened to him speak, I knew that he would never see it as politically expedient to declare that I, and persons who share my sexual orientation, could not have a place in his Cabinet. That would simply be unthinkable. He is a model of leadership that we could all learn something from.

You really had to be here. It was worth every last minute and cent to have witnessed and participated in this moment

Life, Unscripted, on the Rock wished “Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcom X could be alive to witness this historic day” and Jamaican-born author Pamela Mordecai “wanted to share some things (she) found in (her) little campaign to help Catholics and Evangelicals…see that it's perfectly alright to vote for Obama”:

Here's a quote from a Catholic man planning to vote for Barack Obama: ‘Before abortion was an issue for people, the plight of the african-american was an issue. That issue has never totally been resolved, largely because radical reconstruction in the post civil war era was highjacked by scared white people who didn't like the fact that African-americans were threatening to take the majority away from the whites in southern states… The civil right's movement brought us a little bit closer to equal rights, but not quite all the way. As this issue has been one for longer than the woe v. wade issue has been in existence, I'm voting to settle the problem which has been in longer need of correction.’ (I've quoted him verbatim…)

Meanwhile, Francis Wade, a Jamaican who lived in the U.S. for many years before recently deciding to return to Kingston, admitted that he suddenly had “a strong feeling of missing being in America”:

As the results came in for Obama's victory — a landslide in electoral terms — the hope that I can dimly remember associating with the world's foremost democracy started to seep back in, after what seems like an eternity of dark gloom.

The Bush years made me glad to be living back home in Jamaica, away from the ugliness, wars and fear that started for me in 2000 with the Bush election “victory.”

Now, it seems, America is back… simply by demonstrating that so much is possible for a Black man, and by extension, for every person in the world who has ever been told that that “they can't.”

Whether or not Obama turns out to be a great president or not, at this point in time humanity has won an important victory of possibility over cynicism, resignation and despair.

Further north, Bermudian bloggers were also weighing in. Breezeblog said he has “never been more optimistic about an American presidency” in his lifetime:

President-Elect Barack Obama … it still sounds scarcely believable. It was a privilege to watch this historic moment for America, minorities, and the world when an African-American who was unknown four years ago has achieved a truly astonishing political feat. The audacity of hope indeed.

Vexed Bermoothes thought that Obama “won the US election with a thundering mandate” and called November 4, 2008 “a remarkable day”:

Like Bermuda, America wants new faces and a determination to face the issues rather than wallow in past battles and fears. Put simply, the electorate is tired of the same old shit…the reasonable expectation that the victory is not a mandate for payback but a license to govern with transparency, accountability, and equity.

FreshieBlog declared that he “would be proud to be an American”, but Catch a fire lost his bet that McCain would win:

That's okay. As I’ve said before, I regard Mr. Obama as a lesser evil than Mr. McCain. Watching Mr. McCain’s concession speech though, one did have to wonder why he didn’t speak like that more during the campaign. With the close margin of victory by popular vote, more of that ‘real’ McCain may well have been enough to trump the negative Palin factor and win the election for him.

Barbadian bloggers, some of the most politically outspoken in the region, were also celebrating the victory. Barbados Free Press was reveling in the accuracy of its election predictions:

In the middle of the Obama – Hillary runoff for the Democratic nomination, we declared that Obama would be the next President of the United States. We felt that victory months ago, but we also said that all this excitement over a black President would soon give way to the fact that Barack Obama’s policies with offshore banking and taxation are distinctly hostile to the interests of Barbados. Black majority nations are going to be very surprised if they think that President Obama will place their interests over the interests of his country.

Still, the image of the United States has been changed overnight and that change may help on many worldwide fronts where the USA has assumed responsibilities or powers in situations it has no right sticking its nose into.

Young diaspora blogger Jdid understood that he was witnessing a piece of history:

Stop for a minute. Just stop. Consider where you are right now in your life and where you were when you heard the news that Barack Obama had won the US presidential election. Bask in the elation and the euphoria, take in the sights and the sounds. Remember them!

Without overly indulging in hyperbole this is truly a momentous occasion. In my lifetime so far I've seen such events as the end of apartheid and the end of the cold war. Those were moments back then that I hoped might come but still never really dreamed would occur. Similarly but oh so much more of a dream, pipe dream even, was the concept of a black president in the US.

We have a new hero. Especially for us who are here in North America as minorities. We no longer only need look to foreign leaders or dead African kings and Pharaohs or Marcus, Martin and Malcolm to point out to our children what black people have and can achieved. We have a real live person closer to home who isn't a rapper, who isn't an athlete, who isn't an entertainer who we can say has achieved the impossible, defied the odds, made it to the very top and looks like you and I.

Cheese-on-bread! added:

Barack Obama's 349 electoral votes to John McCain's 162 signal more than a Democratic win over the Republicans; they symbolise a chance for the world to experience a paradigm shift, to look beyond race and the colour of a man's skin to value his mettle and soul. All I can say is that I feel proud that my son can grow up in a world where he can look at Obama's example and dare to dream.

…while Caribbean Lionesse apologized to America:

America… my bad. We were wrong about you. We completely underestimated you.
And this morning, I am happy to admit I was wrong.

I did not think that Americans were ready to elect a black president. I was convinced, as we all were, that you could not overcome your ‘original sin’ of slavery that has tainted racial relations for all of your existence.

Clearly, President-elect Barack Obama saw something that the rest of us did not see. Clearly, you knew within yourself that the world was wrong. That you were bigger and you had come far enough and you were ready.

I am in awe.

Cuban bloggers – particularly those in the diaspora – may also have been in awe, but for different reasons. Babalu Blog was gracious about the loss:

Despite my guy having lost and whatever negative feelings that brought upon me, I couldnt help but smile as I watched and listened to fellow Americans rejoicing for being Americans. Believe it or not, it made me feel good. This is, indeed, the greatest country on Earth.

So, despite some trepidation over President elect Obama's possible future policies, and despite a few folks stating overtly that anyone that voted for McCain had to be ‘stupid’, I'd like to congratulate the President elect and his supporters.

The Cuban Triangle also acknowledged the historical significance of the victory, as he told of an encounter he had at one of Obama's rallies:

Long before the program began, I turned to a black man standing next to me and made an attempt at light humor, telling him that in about three and a half hours, the program would be starting right up.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life,” he responded.

I got the point.

Blog for Cuba thought that Obama's win validates “what we conservatives have always understood, that the USA is the greatest country on earth, a beacon of freedom, where by the pursuit of happiness and the virtue of hard work anyone, no matter how humble their birth, can attain their dreams”. But he also made sure to turn the spotlight right back to Cuba:

Meanwhile, back in the gulag, Cuba's political prisoners are still not free, and 12 million Cubans still lack Human Rights, and are still Castro's slaves. This morning, just like yesterday Cubans still must resolver to put food in their stomachs, and to survive the repression and hardships the Castro dictatorship imposes upon them.

Obama said he will change the world. We shall see.

Bloggers from the Windward Islands also had their say. Abeni was proud to announce that…

After centuries of subjugation and segregation I am unashamedly celebrating the fact that a black man is now the Commander in Chief of the United States of the America.

…while Dominica Weekly simply said:

Change has come to America and the world.

Down at the southern end of the Caribbean archipelago, bloggers were also celebrating. Coffeewallah had just two words – Barack Obama:

The world changed last night, an infinitesimal shift, those tiny ripples are going to get bigger as the weeks go by, because despite the political game, there is now someone whose office holds so much world significance, whose thinking seems to be radically different from business as usual.

Good luck to you Mr. President.

Media Watch thought that McCain's concession speech contained “lessons for local politicians on how to concede defeat without dividing a nation”, while wondered about the role of the Internet in Barack Obama's success – “not in the media blitzes that were focused on the American people, but through discussion using the Internet.”

Notes from Port of Spain urged people to savour the moment:

It's enough to see the end of cowboy politics, at least for now. To see the back of Dubya and Dick and Rumsfeld and Rove, and the shame and disgrace they have brought upon America. To see the end of a man who spent eight presidential years working through private traumas concerning his father. To have avoided the possibility of a President Palin. To move away from the politics of aggression, belligerence, arrogance and pugnacity.

That's more than enough for one sun-soaked morning.

Enjoying the moment was just what Trinidadian diaspora bloggers were doing, with photo-blogger Chookooloonks saying:

I admit it: I burst into tears.

Finally, Guanaguanare said that he looked forward to the U.S. being rewarded for their courage:

Many Americans understood that it could not be business as usual and they voted for change. Only time will tell what will be accomplished in the future but I want to acknowledge what went into the momentous victory that was accomplished tonight. I dream of a better day for all people all over the world. I dare to believe that this might be a beginning.

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