Monday, June 9, 2008

If Obama Became President, Would it Change Caribbean Policy?

Many black people worldwide, the Caribbean included, are in a state of disbelief. Barack Obama has claimed his party's nomination for the presidency of the United States. “I didn’t expect to see this in my life time,” many have said. While this is indeed an historic moment not only in the history of the USA, but the world, it doesn’t mean that Obama will become the savior of the Caribbean as some seem to think.

It was interesting to read in The Jamaica Observer on June 5, a commentary warning Caribbean leaders not to expect special favors if Obama ends up in the White House. University of the West Indies (Mona campus) lecturer, Professor Rupert Lewis said that “Obama is not going to be playing any black role; he’s going to be pursuing America’s agenda, which will need to be strengthened by black Americans, but I don’t see an advantage for the Caribbean – the Caribbean will have to define what it wants from the States.”

It was interesting because I don’t want to believe that any black person or country would expect special treatment simply because an African American is in the White House.

The Jamaica Gleaner of Thursday, June 5 interviewed a number of the country’s leaders on Obama landing his Party’s nomination. The overwhelming response was that it was a great motivation. According to Robert Russell, Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company, “It has given new meaning to racial equality, it has certainly given a number of people, who thought they did not have a chance to achieve, the realisation that nothing is impossible.”

Other people in the Caribbean are happy for lots of other reasons as well. Some do not want to see the Republicans or a Clinton back in the White House – they too want a change and see Barack Obama as the key to that change.

Obama has pledged to remove some major sanctions against Cuba if he lands in the White House – now this would be a momentous happening if ever there was one. In declaring his hand, Obama clarified his stance on U.S sanctions against the communist state: “John McCain’s been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I’m looking for a social gathering. That’s never what I’ve said, and John McCain knows it….” What Obama proposes to do is to “immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island…to make their families (of Cuban Americans) less dependent on the Castro regime…” he however, plans to keep the trade embargo in place to use as a bargaining tool to request reforms in Cuba.

The Race Issue

While I am amazed that I have lived to see the unbelievable, every time someone refers to Obama as an African-American a little voice in my head says, but he’s equally white. Yes, his skin is a little darker than some persons of mixed race, but he is fifty percent white as well.

Why does this seem to bother me? Simply, Obama is as much his mother’s child as he is his father’s. To assign the label of black or African-American simply because one parent is black is obviously racist – an individual of mixed race, is 50 percent of each and not 49 percent of one and 51 percent of the other. This is something to think about, isn’t it?

Finally, as I have said before in a previous post and will repeat here, despite what everyone is saying about Obama’s poor showing among blue-collar white Americans, his biggest battle will be to win over Hispanics and Asians. It is believed in many quarters that the Latino vote is based more on the immigration stance of the ‘would be presidents’ than on race, but I’m not totally convinced – yet.

Whatever the outcome of the November election, America has sent a powerful message to the world – “Despite our problems, our racial issues, we are a great nation”.

-Jessica McCurdy Crooks


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Esther said...

To my mind one and all must go through this.

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