Happy Inauguration Barack Obama
Normally I would say that American politics is out with the remit of this blog but I have been watching the ceremony on BBC News 24 (hurrying home to get to see it happen) and it is nothing short of awe inspiring to see the crowds who travelled from as far afield as Africa and Europe to see him sworn in. He’s an amazing speaker and whether you agree or disagree with his words they demand to be heard. This day will change the world in a way that does not usually happen with these, strictly speaking, procedural ceremonies.
However, as a comment on the press, I find the media coverage to be faintly one sided – from Obama’s message of diversity and equality the press have turned to commenting nearly exclusively on the African American community. I personally dislike the concept of racial communities being collectively described in anything, I’m technically a member of the “white community” along with the Neds who throw used chewing gum on the bus and members of the BNP but it would be a cold day in hell before I feel kinship with either of those groups. I suspect it’s the same for people of other races and the oft repeated comments that the “black community” is happy that Obama is president don’t ring true to me; groups of completely different people can’t be spoken for like that. For example, the prayer given by the black civil rights leader that he hopes there comes a time when “white can do right” is probably a fairly heartfelt statement for that particular man who undeniably suffered but cannot possibly cover every single white person in the world.
Russell Howard tells an anecdote in his act about his mother joining a “5 foot club” and discovering that the only thing the members had in common was their height and this did not mean that they had common ground or even got on as people. The same point stands for people grouped together by age or religion or nationality or race – the members might share this characteristic but they are still individuals and no one should ever forget that and pigeonhole anyone.
I would much rather consider Barack Obama as an exceptionally talented, intelligent and sensitive man, human being even, than a half black, half white Hawaii-born American. To say any less is to diminish him as a person.