Join Me for Next Training

New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Will a Black Man ever rule the US? - A tribute to the Goens on Inauguration Day

I am sitting in the living room right here in Singapore. It's 2300hrs now and there's a live telecast of Barack Obama's Inauguration into Presidency. Washington DC is swarmed with millions of proud Americans. I am very sleepy and I've got a headache. Yet the inauguration is a special moment for me.

I'm not American, and I'm not tearing from 'the special historical moment'. Why then, is it special for me?

Some years ago, I had a conversation with Sherman Goens and Teresa Goens at their humble house on Broadway Street. I gave them a surprise visit when I visited Indianapolis in 2005. The conversation was on great black people who have been influential in US history. I knew quite little about significant black people in the US but I knew enough to make conversation to learn more about them. You know, it's one of those situations - the more you talk, the more you listen; and the more you listen, the more you learn. I think the Goens and I had an engaging conversation. That's it: an engaging conversation.

We talked about Mohamad Ali, the boxer. We talked about Martin Luther King Jr. Then we talked about slavery and freedom, and how America has become more 'inclusive' and less racial discriminating. The conversation led to how I embraced what we called 'the color-blind culture'. The Goens and the rest of my friends I made in the US didn't see me as yellow. I didn't see them as black or white either. We sat in the living room reminiscing our past adventures, and we joked about how 'black' I had become while hanging out too much with the Goens.

"Chen, do you think the US will be ruled by a black President?"

I don't remember if I gave a definite answer. I probably would have said something along the lines of globalisation and choosing great leaders and such. After all, the answer was somehow along the lines of what we had talked about anyway. "If the right person comes along, and if he's a charasmatic leader... why not? You (American) guys need someone who's pragmatic and who can ensure change!"

Fast forward to 20 January 2009: Barack Obama will be the first black American to be inaugurated as President of the United States of America.

Sherman and Teresa, you have your answer now. You may now rest in peace. Smile down at us from Heaven, and bless Obama while he leads America.....

And this is why Obama's inauguration is special to me - because even though my black friends are not in this world today to witness a historical moment, I'm at peace that Sherman and Teresa have always been part of this historical moment from the time we had THAT conversation in 2005.