05 November 2008

On November 4, 2008, across the United States, people took to the streets in celebration when a winner was announced:

On July 13, 2001, across China, people took to the streets in celebration when a winner was announced:

In 1861, the United States began a bloody civil war, partly because of the election of a man from Illinois, primarily because of a national shame that has lingered since.

In 1839, China entered a war that would leave a sense of national shame in the years to follow.

In both cases, these symbolic victories can’t heal the deep wounds that they address; the Olympics did not end China’s insecurities for good, nor will Obama’s victory allow America to “transcend racism”. But they are powerful changes that shift an entire nations self-image forever in positive and deeply felt ways. Both announcements inspire a national sense of pride and purpose, both energize the young, both speak to enormous national and political issues that stretch across centuries and generations and yet feel vitally, deeply personal.

And it is in comparing these moments that we can better see one another. In our hopes, and our dreams.

My hometown, NYC - Harlem, this one is yours.



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