Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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This election has finally come to the climax that the entire world has waited for. Regardless of political affiliations and personal affinities, what we have witnessed this evening has made a statement about a continually divided United States of America and an ideally unified one in the coming years.

While this blog has been peppered with a few references to all of the players of what essentially became a game of verbal touchdowns and missed field goals, this seminal moment is something that cannot be looked over, even by your friendly neighborhood Sports Scribe. Considering the medium, the election of the 44th President of the United States is the most dissected, media-infused and analyzed event in history. It was not just because of who the candidates were, but because what the collective country and planet has endured over the past eight years.

The election of an African-American to the highest position in American government is the defining moment of this post-9/11 world and most certainly one of the most significant events in global history. With that said…

Now what?

It may seem inappropriate for an African-American to ask this question or strange for a member of the Millennials to cautiously consider the next step or just plain bizarre for a sportswriter to use a blog to relay a message of concern. Yet, as I have watched and listened to the world around me boast and roar loudly during this campaign, I have been asking that question at every single step.

As an African-American, it is hard to deny a certain amount of pride in the ascendance of President-elect Barack Hussein Obama. It is not necessarily or solely sharing a similar skin tone so much as it is an appreciation of what many, regardless of ethnic makeup, have sacrificed for the mere chance to consider a viable candidate of minority descent.

As a twenty-six year old product of the eighties and nineties, it is difficult to not stand in awe of how this election has brought millions to the ‘flatter world’. The manners in which citizens of all generations have used media technologies old and new to share their thoughts, parse through information and urge each other to participate in this election have been nothing short of phenomenal.

As a sportswriter, it is simply impossible to ignore the impact of this event. While athletes are supposed to just shut up and play, the media that surrounds them did not. Though some of you may question the blending of these moments of play with these moments of gravity – such as when some athletes and media personalities took up the political discourse or the leagues manipulated the event for marketing purposes – the government has a profound effect on what we all do, regardless if it’s sports or… plumbing.

However, in witnessing the world’s activity around the election of either Obama, Senator John McCain or other candidates during the primaries, what concerns me is how that energy, no matter who won, would evaporate as quickly as it came.

While your eyebrows are raised and you question my credibility, consider the ongoing theme of this election; change. Whether this was about ‘giving a brotha a chance’ as many screamed for months, just purging the world of Bush or serious dislike for either McCain, Governor Sarah Palin or the Republican Party, there are a lot of individuals who voted for change’s sake. There exists an equal amount of somewhat superficial reasoning on the other side as the idea of a black President jarred some and the clich├ęd question of apparent experience jolted others. And for everyone who took their sweet time and perused all available information, there was still the matter of the unknown as the days move ahead.

Beyond all of this, we have been so desperate for some sort of quick, Swiffer-like cleaning of the American government that we overlook that change is not something that happens overnight. Nor does change begin from the top down. Change is something that begins from within.

It starts with each one of us individually; asking ourselves how we can improve our standing, professionally or personally. The election of Obama as well as many new members of Congress should compel use to demand accountability and efficiency, yet we should ask ourselves ‘how can I help’? We seek better schools, more competitive employment, comprehensive health care and so much else, but we need to demand much more of ourselves to ensure that we are in the position to have improved services. We need to stop asking for help and just help.

I speak not only from personal conviction, but from the collective hearts of members of my family who have given their complete beings to ensure a better tomorrow for someone other than ourselves. We have endured our own great travails in order to make seemingly small dents in our fair City of New York. However, those small dents actually gave way for the larger, more grandiose pronouncements and actions. Those small dents reflected the change that many waited for, but few acted upon. Those small dents had and continue to have a greater and more immediate impact than anything that solely government action could ever provide. Proof of this exists in various parts of the City, most notably in Harlem.

As we soak in or revile the moment, I hope that we do not only consider the eloquent words in Obama’s victory or McCain’s concession speeches – words in which they both ask that the citizens help close the divide – but that we act upon them. I hope that not only Obama serves the Oval Office by its truest intentions, but that Joe Biden brings greater credibility and visibility to the position of Vice President. I hope that Senator McCain can rebuild his image and do right by the people of his home state of Arizona while returning to his bipartisan efforts. I hope that Governor Palin can not only amend her errors during this campaign, but most importantly give her daughter the strength and support she will need during her pregnancy and beyond.

I also hope to never forget something that my late father had taught me years ago; never settle, but always hustle and work for the change we seek.

Besides, if you’re going to continue to sit on the sidelines, you might as well not even ask to get in the game.

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