Sunday, November 9, 2008

Change Has Come


From my friend, author Lutishia Lovely:

It all started at a dinner party. That's where I met Valarie Kaur, a fiery, Sikh American whose passion for positive change matches my own. She'd produced a film, Divided We Fall (www.dwf-film.com) about life for diverse America in general and Sikh Americans in particular in the aftermath of 9/11. We began talking about our country, its problems and possibilities. That rambling and lively conversation during the course of a wonderful evening sparked a lifelong friendship, and my beginnings in politicking for Barack Hussein Obama.

Valarie had been a precinct captain for Obama during the primary and after receiving an email from her requesting volunteers, I found myself, along with thousands perhaps millions of others, phone canvassing for Obama from the privacy and comfort of my home. The campaign's astute use of the internet made it as easy as the click of a mouse to log on, get a caller list, and join the process. I called citizens across the country, and was encouraged and inspired as I talked to, at that time, Clinton, Obama and McCain supporters. What struck me was not how different we were, depending on our political preference, but what we shared in common: a desire for change, a right to our ideals, and the American flag.

From that first phone call in late 2007 until election night, I engaged in the political process: phone calls, knocking on doors, talking to friends and fellow citizens about why I felt Barack offered positive change that transcended politics. I believed then and know now that what was happening was not a campaign, but a movement: a response to the collective consciousness's desire to see the glass half full instead of half empty, to believe that we can turn poverty to prosperity, hate to love, enemies to allies, "no we can't" to "yes we can". Words can't express my gratitude in participating in the TX elections, winning a small, suburban, heavily Republican community called Pflugerville for Obama and helping him to win the very important caucus vote in that state. Words can't describe being at the Democratic Convention, and at Invesco Field, as a microcosm of America: every race, age, religious affiliation, military branch, and socio-economic background imaginable came together with a shared sense of purpose. Not a campaign but a movement...to change the world. Eighty-five thousand strong, with millions watching, we shared the historic moment when our next president accepted the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.

Millions of us across America continued to campaign for change until the last possible moment. My final push was at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles, at a mega phone bank where hundreds of us dialed frantically to secure swing state voters. I made my last call at 6:00 pm PST, which was 7:00 in Colorado, the time their polls closed. Afterwards I followed the sound of cheering and screaming, which led me to the hotel lobby where the state-by-state results were coming in. Vermont was first, then Maine, New Hampshire, etc. Pennsylvania: a big one. Ohio...oh my. Can this be real? Yes, it's really happening. At 7:59 Obama had 207 electoral votes. We knew he'd win, but I wanted to see a Virginia/Florida security blanket before I celebrated.

The last poll closed at 8:00 PST and we counted down a momentous election day: 10, 9, 8...3, 2, 1! And then something happened that I didn't expect: the announcement that leapt onto the MSNBC screen: Barack Obama Elected President. That's when life became a high from which I've yet to come down. Change has come to America, and to the world.

I am an American who has African, Native American and European blood flowing through my veins, with friends of almost every ethnicity spread across almost every continent. Under the cover of darkness, my great-great-grandparents used cloth to muffle their horse's hooves and fled slavery in South Carolina. They settled in Arkansas and continued to struggle against racism and economic disadvantage. One day a White man called my great-grandfather the n-word. It was the wrong day to do so. After enduring this and other indignities his entire life, he'd had enough. A fight broke out between the two men and when it was over, the White man died as a result of his injuries. A posse came looking for my great-grandfather and he ran to save his family from harm. They never saw him again.

My grandparents were sharecroppers, and while my grandmother didn't have a college education, she had common sense. So when the landowner kept promising to upon his death, give them the land that they farmed for a pittance, my grandmother insisted the promise be put in writing. As a result, more than one hundred acres of rich Arkansas soil is now our inheritance. (We got more than forty acres, but we're still waiting for the mule. :) My mother pulled us from working to middle-class America by getting first an associates, then two bachelors and finally a masters degree in the areas of nursing and social work. My father, who never finished high school because he had to help work the farm, told me that I could go anywhere, and could be anything. And I have. I am the person Barack speaks of when he talks about the parent that didn't achieve their dream, but believed if they worked hard, their kid could.

In short, I am an embodiment of the American dream; one who is standing on the shoulders of the people who've come before me. I've seen much of the world, its warts and its wonders, and continue to do so now in the blessed position of full-time, published author. All because millions of people before me of every religion, age and race believed the words President-Elect Obama has once again made our positive mantra: a new message for a new day...yes we can. And today, November 5th, a day after the earth has shifted into a positive paradigm, I am grateful to have witnessed this firsthand, to have been a part of creating a world as it should be, and to participate in a democracy that is unparalleled. Last night, when a woman began singing the national anthem and the television station went to commercial, thousands of us at the Hyatt Regency continued singing. With hands over hearts and tears in eyes, we embraced America as it should be: ...the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Yes.

If you are on my mailing list, that means you are my friend. So whether you voted for McCain or Obama, I love you. And I ask that you consider this woo-woo vibe to usher in a brighter tomorrow, for all of us. I ask you to believe in yourself and this country's ability to make the dream of peace and prosperity for all a reality. I ask that you embrace this one simple word...YES. I ask you to believe in the world as it should be, divinely ordered and permanently perfect as Spirit ordains.

PS: A photo album of my journey with Barack can be viewed at: www.myspace.com/lutishialovely.


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