Friday, November 7, 2008

I Don't Know this America,
But I'm most happy to meet it


Two American moments, which one will we extend and sustain?
"I know the America on the left. I am so glad to meet the America on the right.
I will never forget November 4, 2008." – Ezili Dantò


by Marguerite "Ezili Dantò" Laurent
Haitian Perspectives
November 5, 2008

I grew up with the picture on the left. That's the America that lynched Black soldiers in their uniforms after World War II. It's the America I was taught. It's the America unfortunately I've lived through. It's the America that killed the Dreamer.

Yes, I grew up with the picture on the left. I know that America. But yesterday, on November 4, 2008, I was most happy to actually meet the America that chose to make the picture on the right its new dawn.... Honestly, as someone raised in post-Civil Rights America, I don't know this America. I didn't think it was possible.

I am most happy to meet this America and I am most thankful for President-elect Barack Obama's unyielding audacity of hope. Most happy to have taken part in it because he envisioned what could be. I am glad to meet this America of new possibilities, this America of November 4, 2008. I want to be part of this America where I don't feel an outsider to Officialdom because I work for human rights, workers rights, reciprocal trade, respect for Haitian democracy and constitutional rule. I hope that that America won't again turn away from this hope for the poor and disenfranchised all over this planet, and go back to promoting the special interests of the corporate elites, valuing profit over people.

Senator Barack Obama's victory has introduced me to the possibility of that America. That's a stunning feat. I hope all of us rise up to meet this America we all took a glimpse of on November 4th. Change would truly have come if we actually ACT to extend the November 4th values and broad, inter-generational coalition, across the races, transcending political party, class and creeds that was forged to elect Barack Obama. And extend it each and everyday of our lives.

I didn't believe it existed or could be pulled forth in my lifetime. That I've lived to see it, to know it's there and not just the ephemeral dream; that I have lived to see a Black man, this man of integrity and enormous vision and competence, this son of an African, with an aunt who is still an "illegal alien" about to call home, a White House built by the forced labor of African captives, that this America exists and was pulled forth for the world to see, makes me more thankful than I can say.

I pour libation for all the Ancestors who did not live to see that the color line has been crossed. I weep for all the American lives and Iraqi lives in Iraq and elsewhere around the world that paid the ultimate price for this day to come so simply. I pray the children in the Congo will benefit from this new day. I hope this means Haitian lives will also be more valued and a new US-Haiti partnership is on the horizon. I pray that a new dawn of American leadership is at hand and hope that President Barack Obama will work with us as we've outlined in "What Haitian Americans are Asking of the New US President."

Four years ago, part of HLLN mission, as articulated in Campaign Six was to help to elect a President that would not extend the tyranny and disenfranchisement of the Black masses that Bush Regime change brought to Haiti in February 2004. We hope to retire that campaign now and have a working relationship with this new Congress and this new President. Yes we can - Wi nou kapab.

I thank and am so deeply grateful to all those who worked to get out the vote and so blessed to meet this America I don't know but want to get to know, sustain, belong to and have a relationship with. It's been a long time coming...

Ezili Dantò
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
(See Background Essay)

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