Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008: 44, Obama, and Nina Simone

I’m sure that all of you remember where you were at 11:00 pm on Tuesday, November 4 when the networks called it, telling the world that Barack Obama had won the presidential election. It’s on the minds of everyone, including all of my fellow bloggers. After a tear-filled call to my mother, I got on the phone to my other great champion, my aunt Syl in Brooklyn, New York. Invoking and paraphrasing the slogan from Ronald Reagan’s 1984 political campaign, I said, “It truly is morning in America.” But even as I said it, it seemed derivative… devoid of the flava that our nation’s 44th president so richly deserves.

You know, in Syracuse University lore, the number 44 is considered revered… lucky. It was, after all, the number that Ernie Davis wore when he played running back for the university, as recently retold in the film “The Express.” I’ve thought about that over this past week… two pioneers… one becoming the first Black Heisman trophy winner and one becoming… well, you know… Obama’s Dream Team was on 60 Minutes last Sunday, steadfastly proclaiming that they knew they could run their campaign freely, bringing the candidate’s values to the public, because they weren’t saddled with the burden of other’s expectations.

That resonated deeply for me… running your own race… keeping your eyes on the prize… defying those who discount you. Focusing on me – it is, after all, my blog entry – I’ve shared with you my epic battles as a midlist author in the publishing industry, the most recent of which being my attempts at getting my latest, Triptych, published. I remember telling you all I would publish it myself if I couldn’t find a mainstream publisher.

Well, I am a woman of my word. Triptych will hit stores on December, my birth month and the last one in a year that has been simultaneously trying and life changing. I am, after all, a storyteller. If I stop being that, it will be my choice to do so, and no one else’s. Plus, I started in this game as a self-published author. Just like Obama, I will be able to make my own decisions, bring my own vision to the fore. And I know that no one in the industry has any expectations that I will succeed. That’s been made abundantly clear. I share this with you 44 weeks after I decided to proceed actively in this endeavor. Hopefully, 44 will bring the reverential luck that it brought to Ernie Davis and to President-Elect Obama.

All this is why “morning in America” doesn’t appropriately capture the hopes and dreams that I have for Obama, for our country, and for myself. So, I’ll paraphrase the lyrics of “Feeling Good,” by the ever-eloquent late great Nina Simone. It is a new dawn. It is a new day. It is a new life for me. And I am feeling good…

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