A November 5th Poem

Dear President Barack Hussein Obama,

We are celebrating. For two years, we have watched you revive a nation.  From Berlin to Brooklyn, Chicago to Kansas, from the streets to online chat rooms, your words have rippled on distant shores, hungry for hope.  Your songs of immigrants who went westward, textile workers and dishwashers and poor farmers who organized, ignite us.

When you voted against the war though you had never served, we trust you spoke for the millions of Iraqis, thousands of Americans murdered– and those who return, desperate and jobless.  We pray that when big oil reaches out his hand, you will not ask – how much?

Though your bloodlines are not of plantation workers, when you speak of slaves who whispered freedom songs, we believe your heart bleeds a sincere red.  For undocumented laborers who till in blueberry fields in Maine and kitchens in New York City - jobs Americans refuse - modern-day slavery still lives.  Will you stand up?

For not even a moment, did we consider McCain.  When your experience was minimized to an “elegant idea”, we defended your idealism - and joined the ground efforts to make phone calls to swing states and canvass in the heartland. We donated money, clenching your words -  change is on its way.

Sitting home was not an option. We remembered the struggle of Fannie Lou Hamer, who organized black voters in Mississippi who risked their jobs to cast ballots; Harriet Tubman, who carved secret freedom passages from Maryland to Ontario; Rosa Parks who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a crowded public bus on a cold December day in Montgomery.  We will not let their memories fade into chic tee-shirts.  We proudly cast our ballots.

But we have questions:

Will you remember the stories of single mothers and retired veterans you share on fancy mikes? Will you distance yourself from the south side of Chicago, your childhood in Indonesia, your family in Kenya, as you overlook Palestine?  Will you “drill baby drill” if oil companies and a misled American public make you an offer?  President Obama, please tell us – who are the “right guys” who deserve a death penalty?  Will you make us fear our neighbors? Will you spy on us?  Will you abandon the civil rights movement which made your improbable candidacy possible?  Will you shut Guantanamo – and bring justice to the prisoners who are shackled, stripped of clothes, dunked into water and forced into solitary cells - some whose only fault is a funny name? Will you choose diplomacy before weapons, reason before fear, compassion before self-interest? Will you bomb Afghanistan and claim you are anti-war?

These are the questions we longed to ask on the campaign trail but held back our tongues.

People tell us, if you don’t like America, just leave.  This election means more than an unlikely story come true. If you go back on your promises, we will still applaud this historic moment and be its proud witnesses. But we hope that you will play a small part in the great healing this country still needs. One man cannot transform a nation - we will keep taking to the streets and knocking on doors.  President Obama, please keep us believing.

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Comments

Obama's resounding victory is

Obama's resounding victory is surely sign of changing times in USA. But his international policy is still unclear. His interest in kashmir is uncalled for. It remains to be seen how he handles economy crisis and afghanistan.

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