Obama Symbolizes a Growing-point in U.S. Citizens’ View of Race

“Paula was sitting next to Ifemelu a short while later when the flash of graphics appeared on the screen: Barack Obama had won the state of Virginia.

Oh my God,’ Paula said. Her hand trembling at her mouth. Blaine was sitting straight and still, staring at the television, and then came the deep voice of Keith Olbermann, whom Ifemelu had watched so obsessively on MSNBC in the past months, the voice of a searing sparkling liberal rage; now that voice was saying ‘Barack Obama is projected to be the next president of the United States of America.’

Blaine was crying, holding Araminta, who was crying, and then holding Ifemelu, squeezing her too tight, and Pee was hugging Michael and Grace was hugging Nathan and Paula was hugging Araminta and Ifemelu was hugging Grace and the living room became an altar of disbelieving joy.” – Americanah, Adichie: pg 477


When was the last time that you have ever been this overwhelmed by joy and happiness that it brought you to tears? Some of you may have actual miraculous stories that occured in your life, maybe your long lost uncle was terminally ill and was injected with some uber-powerful drug that was able to cure him of his coronary artery disease, his percezione che differiscono, or some other scary sounding disease. And if that is your story, I highly encourage you to consider writing an autobiography, because if this kind of thing occurs in your life, I bet your life is extremely interesting. As for the rest of us, we probably can’t even fathom something so great occurring in our world. Maybe acing a math test? That’s brought me to tears a few times.

The crazy thing is that I can’t begin to imagine being so invested in and so elated by a presidential candidate. I’ve never been interested in politics, let alone completely invested in it. But, a candidate wasn’t ever personal to me. Obama’s election as president in 2008 was a huge milestone for the United States, American citizens were considerate enough to elect a president that wasn’t a white man, making Barack Obama the first African American president in U.S history. This election, to some, not only marked the day where citizens were able to move past race and vote a non-white president, but suggested that our country was moving in the right direction and accepting those different from us. Others didn’t think this way. In Americanah the opposing viewpoint is represented by the comments on Ifemelu’s blog during Obama’s election. Things like, comparing Obama to a monkey, suggesting that we should “send [Obama] back to the African jungle”, and the idea that “‘a black man will never be in the white house, [because] ‘dude it’s called the white house for a reason’”, were said in the comments of Ifemelu’s blog. Some even went on to say, that “‘somebody [should] do us a favor and put a bullet in this guy,’” Americanah, Adichie: pg 439.

To me this is a very extreme way of thinking. The way the comments talk about dealing with Obama’s campaign and his eventual election is very isolating and discriminatory. And not only does the commenter’s viewpoint involve Obama, but it also involves others of different heritage than of a white person’s . And this might be my egalitarian-self taking over this blog, but it baffles me how someone can talk about someone else like that. We are all humans and deserve to be treated and represented equally like one. Race shouldn’t matter. Gender shouldn’t matter. Age shouldn’t matter. We. Are. All. Human. Maybe it was how I was raised, but I have never questioned that fact. I hope that everyone becomes aware of this fact. And maybe that’s me being optimistic, but I believe that people like Obama and Adichie aren’t the only people who have the power to plant this idea in U.S citizen’s minds. I believe we all have that power. We need to all hold each other accountable. I believe that if we keep stressing the fact that we need to treat everyone equally and look at a person and see them for who they are and not what they look like. And I thank Adichie and Obama for being brave enough to share that idea and encouraging others to do exactly the same.


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