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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama on a Personal Level + Africa Please Stand Up!

I woke up this morning and the impact of yesterday's outcome hit me. As I stayed in bed savoring and replaying the tapes, I could not help the tears that flowed. In my personal experience especially in my professional career as an attorney, I had begun to really lose hope in the legal system. I had questioned for a while, why I wasted all this time-my whole life and law school included thinking I could make a difference in the legal system. I always knew I wanted to do my part to change the world. Since I was a child, I dreamt so many times of using law as a vehicle for change. I am so passionate about law even more so than fashion. In practicing law, although I have delved very much into civil litigation, the past three years saw me really giving back to my community by taking on criminal litigation matters for Juvenile and Adult indigents. It was during these three years I started to really lose faith in the American legal system, especially its criminal justice system.
I never questioned the veracity of "you can be whatever you want to be." I believed it wholeheartedly, that is until I began working in a criminal system that in practice said you are "guilty until proven innocent." It was so disheartening. It was also a system that implicitly and explicitly presumed when an African/black attorney walked into the courtroom, he/she was incompetent unless proven competent. It was a system that sometimes had the clear black letter of the law on what to do, yet it said, "and so what? Justice ko, justice ni. Abeg commot jare [Basically, "whatever!"]."

As I handled numerous matters representing Juvenile criminal indigents mostly black and hispanic youths, I had to make them believe that: 1) they could be whatever they wanted to be, irrespective of their pasts; and 2) that the American legal criminal justice system could indeed serve up justice. I had to engage the same persuasive skills for adult clients. It became harder and harder to say that and truly mean it. I was starting to feel I bought into a lie that was sold to me in my early youth and in law school. In my naivity, I bought into the idealism only to find out what a stark contrast reality was and that you could work really hard, uncover truths and go the extra mile but at the end of the day, it did not matter! Or did it?

Enter Barack Hussein Obama. I understand there is a great sense of expectation and so much hope. But, I am very cognizance that the many injustices, corruption and profiling that targets mostly blacks and hispanics will not be completely rooted out in the criminal justice system. It will take time. However, it gives me GREAT hope. I feel so much hope, happiness and rejuvenation. I BELIEVE, again! I also feel so much vindication for the many juveniles and adults in the criminal justice system I have had the privilege of representing, whom I have told to do their parts and be upstanding citizens because change will come. CHANGE HAS INDEED COME TO AMERICA and I am from a deeply personal and professional space proud to be a citizen of this great nation. I will continue to serve it in the best ways I know how to, with a focus on bridging the gap for the haves and have nots, not just in the USA but outside.

Indeed, it is this core belief and service that connects me with Africa, for example. I am an "Afropolitan" which is what I feel best describes me, as one of the ones caught in the corridors of culture. I take note of how Derrick Ashong, our main feature and major supporter of Barack Obama put it in my interview with him, "We [Africans] should not be under any illusion that Barack Obama will save us. [Africa] has to save itself." Barack Obama IS the President of the United States NOT Africa and its numerous countries. As such, I urge every African, "Afropolitan" and non-African who believes in Africa to understand that we have greatness in us. It is "US". We ARE "IT"and our generation must carry the baton that has been passed and is being passed to us and CHANGE Africa. YES WE CAN do it in our own little corners of the world. YES WE CAN DO IT collectively by collaborating, organizing, centralizing and building strong grassroots that will change Africa one country at a time!
AFRICA, PLEASE STAND UP! Now is your Time.

Enjoy your day!
--Uduak

Photos Courtesy of Reuters/AP







2 comments:

Chi-Chi said...

Well said, LB! What a proud moment to enjoy for years to come, huh?

Ladybrille said...

Thanks Ms. FG2BH!

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