Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The verb that is "Barack Obama"

The dials are lighting up at the stations. We're in London. I'm listening into LBC-speech based radio.

Could there be an Barrack Obama in the UK?

Some callers blame Britain's class system. All our previous Prime Ministers come from the upper echelons of society e.g. education, wealth, et al strata.

Some say there's still institutional racism - a term Britain's race czar, Trevor Phillips, said should be consigned to the waste bins.

They said that about black footballers not to long ago a caller said, but then now look, there's a healthy number of black soccer players in the UK premier league.

Then a few claim it could, but not in their lifetime.

One caller says he's not moved by all this and does it matter, for which the presenter James O'Brien countered : It matters because if colour is a bar to progress then there's no guarantee we'll get him or her.

One listener texts into the show lamenting the debate. Why doesn't anyone talk about whether a white person could be president of Africa? Yes, Africa?

Young Black and Inspirational
Eric Miyeni, a well known South African polymath says he broke many apartheid rules as a young man. He's still in his thirties.

"I would walk into a restaurant and the way I carried myself, my confidence meant if the manager wanted to chuck me out, he would find it difficult to tell me", Eric told me from spending many days with him for a documentary.

You need to fix your space and beat the system with words, not anger. Eric certainly had all the qualities Obama exudes, at least when I knew him, except rather than pursuing his degree in law, he fore sake that for a profession as an actor/ comedian.

If politics, as we tend to interpret and why not, is the Everest of any high office or all professional careers, then President Obama's mind blowing achievements are just that mind blowing.

But there are many Obama's outside of politics, working youth centres, criminal justice system, education, health and local municipal politics, whose ambitions fall short of the mother of all offices, the presidency.

But as I was watching the screen yesterday, I couldn't help but think, like millions, the "what if" that the images could have on a new generation.

And, whether there was any mileage in any articles searching out the Obama's of their fields - something Ebony does in celebrating success, and something that could have a wider merit of interest in our times.

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