Oh Mama, it’s President Obama!

As the results trickled in, the tears trickled down. Millions of faces glistened with tears on election Obama night. There were tears of joy, as many Americans celebrated Barack Obama’s historic victory; tears of sorrow, as many Americans lamented John McCain’s loss; tears of gratitude, as many Americans got down on their knees and thanked God that the presidential race was finally over.

“No more negative ads, no more debates, no more promises they can’t keep!” screamed a 40-year-old Detroit man, running into the street in jubilation. “And no more red and blue maps on TV!”

For African-Americans, especially those who had lived through the Civil Rights Era, it was a once-in-ten-lifetimes occasion, one that seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. “I don’t believe it, I just don’t believe it,” said an 80-year-old Chicago man, rubbing his eyes. “A black man in the White House! And he’s not carrying a broom!”

So surreal was the moment that many Obama supporters attending a victory rally in Chicago turned to their friends and said, “Pinch me. I must be dreaming.” There was so much pinching during the night that Chicago Police received reports of 38 missing wallets.

“It was a night of inspiration,” said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. “While Senator Obama and his many supporters were chanting, ‘Yes, we can,’ a few crooks were also saying, ‘Yes, we can.'”

It wasn’t just the crooks causing trouble. At least one woman slapped the man beside her, screaming, “I didn’t tell you to pinch me THERE!”

But nothing could spoil the night for Obama supporters, nothing could detract from a terrific speech by the soon-to-be 44th President of America, who is slightly more eloquent than the 43rd.

Obama’s speech was so magnificent that it even moved a group of Penn State students gathered at a bar in State College, Pennsylvania. “We were so inspired,” said junior Mike Williams. “Every time Obama said, ‘Yes, we can,’ we took another sip.”

McCain’s concession speech was just as inspiring, full of grace and class, leaving many of his supporters saying “If only.”

Supporter: “If only he had made more appearances on Saturday Night Live.”

Second supporter: “If only he had picked Joe the Plumber as his running mate.”

Third supporter: “If only he had dyed his skin black.”

That Obama’s skin color was seen by some as an advantage — and not the formidable obstacle it was expected to be — is a testament of how much America has changed. Indeed, when young white voters were shown a picture of Obama and asked if he was different from them in any way, 63 percent of them pointed at his ears. They were referring, of course, to the fact that Obama is considered a good listener. It’s a quality that endeared him to many female voters. “Too bad he isn’t single,” one woman said. “I would have voted for him several more times.”

Just a few decades ago, African-Americans had to sit at the back of the bus, had to order their food through the back door of the restaurant, had to kowtow to the white folk. Now they’re sending one of their own to the whitest of houses.

No wonder a 92-year-old African-American woman in a Cleveland nursing home took her own pulse while watching the Obama victory rally on TV.

“Are you okay?” a nurse asked.

“I’m fine,” the woman replied. “For a moment, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”


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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Excellent
    For missing wallets, i would have written “pinched” wallets
    And yeah!! that cabinet one was really funny.
    I don’t remember but there were some really funny posts in philippines and cuba, too. I’ll send u if i find them.

  2. Kathleen Jun says:

    Dear Melvin,
    Your best column ever–touched at the tender heart of this whole thing but still delivered plenty of humor. Congratulations.

  3. Personally I don’t like the term of hyphenated Americans, I believe we are all
    Americans, in this hemisphere.
    (via email)

  4. Doug Dykes says:

    Melvin, I respect and appreciate, though admittedly cannot possibly understand, the trials and tribulations, suffered by African Americans, throughout history.
    I think we can all agree that anyone who would not/did not vote for Obama, solely due to his race, is both a fool and a bigot. However, I don’t understand why anyone who would vote/did vote for Obama, solely due to his race, is not portrayed in that same light? While we’ll never have any way to possibly know, it is my supposition that there was more of the latter, than the former, on election day.
    It is also my contention that if John McCain had closely associated for 20+ years with a person as racist and hateful as Jeremiah Wright, that his candidacy would never have, and justifyably so, seen the light of day.
    Most will agree that Barack Obama is a top-notch orator. His charisma knows few equals. But the fallacy that he is some kind of unifier, is, to this point in his brief career in Federal Politics, highly innacurate. Out of 100 Senators, regardless of party affiliation, Obama, in the first two years of his senate term, had the most partisan voting record of any Senator. Yet somehow he has been annointed/culivated an image as a unifier? It’s just not accurate.
    Time will tell, but I remain highly skeptical of the new President-elect. No one, but no one, should be judged, pro or con, on their race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, etc. However, politicians must expect to be judged by the company they keep/have kept, as well as their records in whichever branch of Government they have previously served. On those two counts, Obama’s record is suspect.

  5. A refreshing read.
    I have probably given more time to this year’s US elections more than Indian General Elections, General Budget sessions and Economic Policy put together! True, these elections were the most publicised of all but one cannot deny the uniqueness of candidature, the volatile conditions this year has witnessed and the imminent requirement for a President who could undo a whole lot of wrongs. Now all one – a US / global citizen – can hope is that the President-elect delivers the goods that were so neatly packaged in the demo.

  6. Anonymous says:

    LOL!!! Now I needed that! Really funny! Did you really write this in one night? Or did you prepare articles for both candidates before the final election date?
    Melvin replies: Thank you! I stayed up very late on election night to write that.

  7. Well said.
    Its like a new era for the entire world. I am sure other countries will also learn something form this.

  8. Melvin,
    Now that a black man is President shouldn’t the white house be called black house.
    Melvin replies: Well, let’s wait and see if it gets a paint job. Black and white stripes would be nice.

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