I was reading this morning about Obama’s last phone call to a foreign leader: it was to Angela Merkel. I was moved and, at first, I didn’t know why.
The other night I was reading on my kindle and thinking that I was a child who didn’t like computers. My brother would spend hours on our first computer and, by the age of eight, he had a better understanding of how it functioned than my parents did. Growing up, being surrounded by friends who loved computers as a teenager, I thought I could avoid the constant usage of them until I got my first notebook, and then it was gone: I, too, surrendered and am always on my computer since college years and surrounded by gadgets all the time: smartphone, mp3 player and e-reader. Maybe some others that I don’t even realize. The technology came here to stay and it’s in our daily lives in an unavoidable way. I remember the day I saw in an English class an article in a magazine saying something about a screen being developed to match readers needs and to fake the sensation (to one's eyes) of book pages. I was startled but also thought: "it’s silly. I’ll stick to books. There’s no need for that." The fact is I love stories, not only in the traditional book format, so I was wrong: I love my kindle. It helps me a lot and I have a lot of fun with it.
I also remember that one of the first school projects that I was actually really excited to do was about the US, in second grade. I had to research a lot about the country. Bill Clinton was the president. I was not sure if I liked the country, but it was fun to make a lot of tiny US flags to the class and teach my classmates about the most important country in the world (when I was in second grade, the US was the most important country in the world beyond a doubt. Probably still is).
When I was there, not liking technology and having my first contacts with the US politics, I was not concerned about feminism or race. It was probably in the last year of middle school that I realized my private school had a ridiculous amount of black people. Yet, I was not sure if there was anything wrong with that. If anyone told me that it was unlikely for a black person to be president of the most important country in the world, I wouldn’t understand why. I might even think that the person was being racist. Haha.
But in high school and college, I opened my eyes. I started seeing how messed up things were and still are. They are so messed up that I would think I was going crazy for seeing so much racism and misogyny all around. It couldn’t be! How it took me so long to see that? So I thought for a while that I was being extremist and that my favorite feminist blogger was exaggerating. Turns out I was wrong again: she was right, the world is a mess. I didn’t realize before high school because I am lucky as fuck. That’s why! Pardon my French, but that’s the only way of not realizing it.
It was really hard for a black man to be the president of the US. But I saw it happening and I was so happy and proud when it happened! I felt empowered even if in the Brazilian reality I am not black at all. But when Obama entered the White House, I thought: yes, we can!! It was very powerful and moving to me.
I don’t really have a memory of having the same feeling about Angela Merkel. It was a woman getting an amazing job and being one of the world’s greatest leaders, but it didn’t have the same impact on me. Even if she was the main leader of such a powerful country as Germany, it didn’t seem so powerful because Germany is so completely different from Brazil that I didn’t think it was all that hard for her. It was only when she started to develop a strong leadership in the European scenario (which is a way more complex context than just her country, regarding women's situation) that I thought: wow, this woman rocks! Europe is not, I think, as progressive in general as Germany, so I realized I was witnessing something special there too. I was glad and started looking at her as an inspirational model too. I was thankful to her and pissed every time I read stupid comments in English-written newspapers about she being too stern or cold. I wondered if they would even bother to pay attention at the same treats in a male Chief of State.
Obama didn’t accomplish all he wanted or all we expected from him. Yet, the simple and unimaginable fact that he was there every day being an amazing and progressive president was comforting and powerful. I really wish I could shake his hand some day say: hey, thanks, Barack! You’ve done an incredibly good job and inspired an entire generation all around the world!
I thought these much-desired changes were here to stay, as it was with the technology. I still have hope of it being possible and of seeing in the future that we all can. When I read this morning that Obama’s last phone call to a foreign leader was to Angela Merkel I got melancholic as my hopes faded away. Maybe I will see in the future that we, women and black, can as much as white men can. But, for now, what I feel is that today is Mr. Trump’s Inauguration Day.
“The music is over. Turn off the light.”
(But tomorrow we fight!)