ONE 7 • ONE on OBAMA : special section

There’s no question that in the next thirty or forty years, a Negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as President of the United States, certainly within that period of time.
— Robert F. Kennedy, 1968



5 November 2008. Approximately 3:15am GMT.

Flipping from channel to channel from my expatriate Edinburgh armchair for news of our fate, I think I should have gone to bed earlier. Much earlier. No way. I’d intentionally made sure throughout the election campaign to avoid any video footage of Barack Obama. This would be the first real time I’d hear his voice: either to concede or to accept . There was no middle ground.

In the 90s, Rudy Giuliani turned my New York into the overpriced Tokyo of America, and I’d given up on the American Dream. Since 9/11 and the subsequent dismantling of the US Constitution, I’d given up on America. Letters I’ve sent to the states since becoming an expatriate have been addressed to the ‘Untied States’. No one noticed.

It does not matter whether he’s black, half-black, African-American, Mulatto or Metís. America has been in dire need of colour after the past thirty or so years of black & white leaders.

In the words of my grandmother (who had an Native American grandmother and would have been 98 this year) Ruby: “The pendulum has to swing all the way over there, before it comes back.” For now, let’s enjoy the moment, and recollect…

—Martin Belk