By Neil Armstrong
Many Torontonians gathered with family and friends in homes or went to bigger venues on November 6 to watch the U.S. election and cheered the outcome of the night – the re-election of President Barack Obama.
The Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) invited persons interested in watching the election to come to its Centre to do so with a view to repeat the atmosphere there of four years ago when many gathered to witness the election of the first African American president of the US.
“All who were there were on edge especially in the early part of the evening when the preliminary results were coming in. The room erupted when the election was called in favour of the incumbent President Obama.
We were delighted that the American people saw fit to elect him for another four years to finish what he started,” said Audrey Campbell, president of the JCA.
A local restaurant in Toronto, Harlem, also invited people to what it dubbed as the Obama Party. Those who didn’t go out to public venues stayed at home to watch or held potlucks at the homes of friends where they watched the election, ate and chatted into the wee hours of the morning.
“I was not surprised with the fact that Obama won but surprised at the early declaration. This election was important to continue the administration’s agenda towards economic recovery.
Electing Romney would have meant starting over with the American people. Cornering the growing ethnic population plus the gay and lesbian vote was crucial for Obama and demonstrates his ability as an intelligent politician to recognize what is necessary to win.
I think most Americans understand that they need to go through difficulty before prosperity, and continuing what Obama started is travelling the correct path,” said Clive Braham, a radio broadcaster.
“I am excited, tremendously relieved, and loving the fact that I am alive to see and appreciate a multicultural, media-friendly strong Black man lead as president for two consecutive terms.
I feel his fortitude and steadfastness in the face of adversity (overt and covert) is an example and lesson to not only our children, but to all of us.
People love to argue that race has nothing to do with any of this. However, race has been a component of every aspect in this new era of politics (from expectations, assessments, judgments, media coverage, etc. of President Obama’s rise),” said Keda Pierre, a community worker.
“I am so relieved, I think it’s wonderful that he’s been elected to the second term. I was a supporter of Obama when he ran for the senate because we lived in Illinois.
The senate in the States has had very few African Americans and so when he ran we supported him then and we continue to support him,” said Dr. Denise O’Neil Green, the inaugural assistant vice president/vice provost equity, diversity and inclusion at Ryerson University.
Before assuming her new position at the Toronto university, Dr. Green was the associate vice president for institutional diversity at Central Michigan University, serving as chief diversity officer for the university.
Dr. Green is from Chicago, Illinois and said this election affirmed the importance of diversity within the States. “To me it affirms the idea of we’re a collective, we’re not just simply individuals going along our own way.
But, it is a country that we have to pull together and I have to say I was very disheartened by how he was treated during the first term,” said Dr. Green.
She said there was an article written by Toni Morrison about America’s first Black president that was written about President Bill Clinton, (New Yorker, October 1998].
“When we actually got our first Black president, I believe his treatment was a hundred times worst than what Clinton got. No president has been asked to show his papers or their status of citizenship being challenged.
Because it got to that low of a level I was just extremely disappointed in the politics that went on,” she said. Dr. Green sees President Obama as a Jackie Robinson-type, that is, the first one to go through the gauntlet.
“It was a real coalition. It wasn’t just a fluke the first time. I feel the country is definitely ready to move forward and I think the second term will be much better for him because of that,” said Dr. Green about the high percentage of African Americans, Latinos and women who voted for President Obama.
Members of Democrats Abroad, the overseas branch of the US Democratic Party, who live in Toronto met on election night at the Sheraton Centre hotel to champion President Obama. Republicans Abroad Canada met at the Harbour Sports Grille and was planning to party until Governor Romney declared victory.