In june I took the will.I.am you tube video soundtrack and made a ring tone out of it. Obama made me acquire skills in Audacity. I sent it to some friends and colleagues – and they looked at me oddly. Needless to say – my plan for a viral campaign where the public spaces of Melbourne would be resonant with ‘yes we can’ rintnes. Alas it was only one phone that rang out this call. And received many odd looks. Its good to know there are many closet obama supporters and some not so closet ones.
On the evening of the election, as I was watching the returns come in at an Obama election party, I met a man who was more informed about the election than anyone I’d met in the past twenty-one long months. CNN blared over the bar’s loudspeaker. Images of Obama in various thoughtful poses decorated the walls and the chests of more than half the crowd. The partygoers had come to drink, whether in celebration or commiseration—consequences for work the next day be damned. Moving toward the back of the bar, I shared a counter with a short black man dressed in a white button-down shirt and dress pants, wearing rimmed glasses that gave his round face an intellectual air. “Do you think Obama’s going to take Virginia?” he asked. We spoke for a minute about the possibility. “I’ll be honest with you,” he said, “when I look at the polls there, I start to think it might actually be possible—it looks good, but you never know.”
It was the kind of hopeful but guarded statement heard across America on Tuesday night, but this time, the speaker was a Soweto-born South African man who has never been to the United States. We were speaking at 3 in the morning in a bar in Johannesburg, South Africa, where an equal mix of Americans and South Africans had turned out to see—they hoped—the first black man elected president of the United States.