[Outlook]A dream lives onThe father was a domestic servant and cook for an English master. His son went to a school that was a hut with a roof made of galvanized iron sheets. They herded goats for a living.
But they had dreams. The son did everything he could to receive a scholarship and finally went to the United States to study. He fell in love with a Caucasian girl, and they had a son. The baby was named after his father, an affirmation of his Kenyan heritage. The baby was Barack Obama and the baby’s father is Barack Obama, Sr.
The younger Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention, which thrust him into the national spotlight.
During that address, he told the story of three generations of his family. He said his parents believed in the American dream.
He thought his African name, Barack, wouldn’t be an obstacle to success because everyone is given equal chances in America.
Obama said he was thankful to his parents for giving him multiple ethnicities. His belief seemed to have been realized: He went to Harvard Law School, became a U.S. senator and finally is running for a presidential nomination by the Democratic Party.
He grew up in Hawaii where his mother’s family lived. During those days he was called by his American name, Barry, instead of Barack, but he still had a hard time due to the color of his skin.
When a classmate bullied him and called him a nigger, Obama hit him in the face and gave him a bloody nose. He was interested in a white girl but he couldn’t show his feelings.
When he was a teenager, he used alcohol and drugs to forget wounds. Fortunately, this didn’t last for long.
In his 20s Obama accepted his identity as an African-American and started to use the name Barack again.
However, in the primary campaign, the name Obama often caused trouble.
His rivals staged a negative campaign and said Obama is a Muslim. Some even called him Osama, as in Osama bin Laden, maliciously.
This was to play on American prejudice that sees all Muslims are terrorists. The color of his skin still proves to be an obstacle.
Some would say that this is not true after he made a comeback victory against the “iron lady” Hillary Clinton, and in surveys even white people say it is time to have a black president of the United States.
Some 140 years have passed since slavery was abolished in the United States, but discrimination against African descendants still exists in every corner of American society.
Surveys reveal that people favor the African-American candidate, but this is in part because they want to show that they are not racist.
Even if Obama keeps the momentum going and earns the party’s nomination, many expect that he has little chance of beating John McCain, the Republican Party’s strong contender for the presidency.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
These famous lines from a 1963 speech by Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a message of ardent desire to end racial discrimination.
Some 40 years later, Obama has a dream, too.
He said “There’s not a black America or white America. There’s not a liberal America or a conservative America. There is the United States of America.”
He dreams of unity between black and white Americans, but his dream is bigger than Dr. King’s dream of equality between black and white Americans.
Some scornfully laugh at Obama’s words and say they are a fairy tale or a charade.
However, not only the United States, but also the entire world, is going through Obamania. It seems that many people believe in his dream.
May be many people who are exhausted by our harsh reality want to believe in his dream even though it seems hard to come true.
Will both Dr. King and Obama’s dreams come true?
We will find out the answer during this year’s U.S. presidential election.
*The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Shin Ye-ri