Wednesday 5 November 2008

The man by Irving Wallace

Not about colour for me

What enamours Barack Obama to me are his ideas and his powers of organisation coupled with the message of change and hope with the inspiration he offered that draw people, money, favour and interest to him.

The kinship of colour and race is not significant to me because my upbringing gave me the confidence to feel good within my own skin such that my colour only becomes an issue when others point it out [It is usually their problem, not mine] – I have thankfully had no need to have a chip on my shoulder.

Where you are you can be

There is an audacity that allows people to believe that they belong somewhere within the law regardless of what makes others think they do not belong for social, cultural, professional, religious or some other complex or arcane reasons.

In 1982, a neighbour gave me a novel titled, The Man [1], it was written by Irving Wallace [2] and it was about a black man becoming an accidental president by being 4th in precedence where an attack wiped out all the others senior to him in precedence.

This book was written in 1964, in the middle of the human rights movement era, just within a year after Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech [3] and it covered all the issues and prejudices that would have dogged a black president in those times.

The fantasies for reality

There have been all sorts of depictions of black presidents [4] [5] of the United States, but none dared to lay claim to the audacity of hope that persuaded Senator Barack Obama to run against the most formidable political machinery in the United States and come up trumps.

Irving Wallace could not have known that 44 years on, there would indeed be a president-elect who would become the 44th President of the United States, and he also happens to identify as an African-American, even less so that the man would rise out of Illinois in Chicago where he was born.

If colour does matter

If colour should become an important issue for anyone about this man and his presidency it should be the opportunity to break out and break away from the refuge of race-tinged excuses for not being able to get ahead – the election of Barack Obama is not the death of prejudice, bigotry or racism but it makes the refuge a more difficult place to run into.

It means we have to look up, rise up, believe themselves, believe our abilities, have stacked up the more objective reasons before racism appears as the completely last resort – we need to sail with the wind of amazing opportunity blowing in their sails, we need to lose those chips on our shoulders.

It should not make those with a long hard history forget where we have come from, many of us do not have those burdens of history and hence we may not understand but we cannot sit in the quagmire of history when a sunny beach of hope beckons.

Barack Obama inspires, it should make us aspire, we have to perspire and we might just be ready to acquire – regardless of race, opportunity beckons, seize it and make your own history.


[1] The Man (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The book – The Man: Irving Wallace: Books

[2] Irving Wallace - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] I Have a Dream - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] The Man (1972 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] David Palmer (24 character) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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