Experience of a lifetime
by Leigh-ann Worrell
Monday January 21, 2013.
It was on this day that millions around the world glued their eyes to television and computer screens to watch President Barack Obama pledge his “Faith in America’s Future”. The brave fought the crowds and eight degree Celsius weather to ensure they were able to witness history live and direct. Somewhere among the hundreds of thousands stood a freezing, but excited Kizwauna Miller.
“When [President Obama] came out, because it was like, ‘that is Obama.’ I felt proud … that was a black man up there, and this is history. I felt like I was a part of history at that moment,” recalled the awed Economics and Mathematics major at the University of the West Indies.
Decked in a red “Obama Girl” tee, the 21-year-old told Barbados TODAY that given the opportunity to attend the inauguration as part of her participation at the Collegiate Presidential Inauguration Conference, held this year in Washington DC, as well as being a former delegate of the Global Young Leaders Conference in 2008. The CPIC is held every four years in celebration of the inauguration of the President and Vice President of the United States.
“I found out in June that I would be going. I was so excited … to see that I was selected and invited to go, because I was among thousands of scholars in the programme … and I was chosen. I don’t know how I was chosen, but I tried to be very active [at GYLC] and not take a backseat on anything.”
To ensure the delegates got the best view they could, Miller said she and the other 200-plus international participants were up by 3:30 a.m. in order to reach the US Capitol by 5:30 a.m.
“It was not a VIP event for us because we had to stand with the crowd, but it was pretty exciting. It is one thing to see the president on television, but it is another thing to be a part of the energy of the crowd. Everyone in the crowd was for Obama, and the people were screaming. It was energetic and exciting to be a part of the action. We were not very close, but there were screens set up…”
The Harrison College alumnus stated the pulse of the crowd also allowed her to get a feel for the causes some of the audience was passionate about.
“There were people that were for the gender equality and gay marriage, so there were people who were pushing for that. There was a lady there, and when Obama said something about Jesus, she was like ‘Yeah! So there is the Christian side there’. There were also some immigrants, so when he stated that immigrants should have the same opportunities, there were some chants. He also spoke about education and having lower student loans, so there were some cheers for that,” Miller remembered.
However, the ideals of equality resonated strongly for her, especially as someone who is considering migrating to the United States.
“For me, the most powerful thing was equality in terms of race, gender and immigrants, because … I would like to live in the States and to hear a president vouch for that instead of staying ‘keep those people where they are’, hit home to me.
“Also, even though he is a black man, he does not only focus on black civil rights, but the rights of everyone. On the topic of homosexuality, I was happy to see that he was for it as a black man, because people have this idea that black people are not for certain things like homosexuality and to push for the rights of everyone…”
CPIC ended last Wednesday, where Miller was able to attend seminars on faith and politics and digital democracy, and also hear the likes of Reverend Jesse Jackson and James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin speak on political issues.
As for her own political aspirations, the Black Rock resident admitted to Barbados TODAY she once was interested in elective parties, but has become disenchanted with party politics here.
“Now, I think I have the notion that they both not saying anything, or they both not doing anything, but when the topic arises, in terms of being in a party or being in parliament, I don’t think it is something that I would like to do.”
However, it does not stop her from having an opinion on the ongoing general elections, which she stated is a hot topic among her friends, both off and online.
“I think what Freundel did was strategic, in bringing the elections down till the very end, but at the same time it could work against him, since the [word on the street] was that Freundel was indecisive and that he wasn’t saying anything… I think both parties have good candidates…, but unfortunately, we can’t pull the good from those parties and create the government,” she stated frankly.
“I think that [Value Added Tax] should be looked into, since the Honourable Sinckler promised to reduce the VAT after the revenue was made. It should come down because cost of [living] is too high. On the other hand, what I realised from reading Twitter is that people are afraid that Arthur will sell us out to Trinidad, so I think they should look to the advisors they have and do what is best for the country.”
Just last night, stated Miller, she was involved in a heated debate online about which party was best for Barbados.
“Those who were for the Barbados Labour Party said that life was smoother under [Owen] Arthur, but then the young Democrats said that the country was … in a mess. But then I raised the issue of CLICO. That happened under the [Democratic Labour Party] administration and it still has not been resolved, and if I were a policyholder, I would allow them to feel the burn of my vote.”
And voting is something she has full intentions of doing come February 21, 2013 — exactly one month after she watched the swearing-in of the United States president. firstname.lastname@example.org