The inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the United States may have took place in Washington, D.C., but reverberations from the ceremony could be felt south of the border, too.
Mexican politicians aside, since Obama was elected the next U.S. president last November, everyday Mexicans have seemed to be in a state of bemused, at times joyous, disbelief.
On the day after the election, a group of kids ambling past me called out “Obama!” and “Kenya!” laughing gleefully. Countless storekeepers, Mexican friends and random people on the street ask me if I am happy to have Obama as president, the incredulity on their faces apparent as they still digest the fact that my president is indeed now black.
Mexico has its own tenuous history with race, but as such a close neighbor to the United States, the primary images it is fed of black Americans are complicated, at best.
Oversexualized music video dancers, athletes, models and performers who don’t have to be smart, just funny or good-looking — not to mention gang-bangers at war with American Latinos — no wonder they’re all a bit surprised that Americans chose to elect — much less, could find — an “elitist” son of an African immigrant as its leader.
Will having Obama as our president change this global conception of blacks worldwide? Maybe.
Or maybe it will just mean that when I walk around this beautiful country, attracting attention from the moment I step out of my door, Mexicans who have only seen blacks on T.V. will have Barack Obama as their closest point of reference instead of, you know, Tyra Banks.