In the book “WUODHA: My Journey from Kenya to these United States”, Washington Osiro offers the view that America’s first non-white president was set off on his way to the White House by Iowans living in a state (Iowa) whose population in 2008 was “approximately 92% white and 3% black”.

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The Iowa Democratic Caucus on January 3, 2008 gave Obama 37.6% – ahead of John Edwards (29.7%) and the then-prohibitive favorite Hillary Clinton (29.4%) – of the 2,500 votes counted. The 16 delegates Obama received set him on the path towards the required 2,382 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

So while Iowa is one of fifty states in the union, it’s “First-in-the-Nation” status re: commencement of the presidential race (every four years) is extremely critical in determining the “front-runner” status of all aspiring candidates.

Why am I opening a piece for a largely Kenyan audience with a synopsis on the nomination process for the American Democratic Party?Two reasons:

1.Because that’s how I roll – just kidding – but it sounds good saying that! 2. But more importantly, to show that the bi-racial (read black) and novice candidate Barack Obama would not have gotten the crucial boost that propelled him towards the nomination then the presidency of these United States within a tipping point of white voters including those in non-Democratic-leaning states such as Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio where he won and Montana and Missouri where he outperformed traditional Democratic (raw vote) totals.

And while there were white voters who wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a black man, enough of the them voted for him – Obama – for a host of reasons – to tip the nomination and presidency in his favor.

I should also mention that there were also black voters – who voted for him because he is black i.e. the historic nature of his candidacy.Saying that some “white” voters did NOT vote for Obama because he is black (or is “Muslim” as some lady intimated to John McCain at a campaign rally) is not racist or racism.

It is stating a fact.Similarly, saying that some Kenyans did not support Obama because of his Luo heritage is not being “tribalistic” or “wallowing in ‘tribalism’.It is stating a fact.Is it a positive portrayal that some white and black voters made their choice for president based on skin color?

Absolutely not – but it IS the truth and what’s that saying: The truth hurts?This narrative about Barack Obama and US politics relates to Kenya thus:As a Luo, does it make me happy when people throw out mostly negative generalizations about my tribe?Absolutely not.

However, I have gotten to the point where I understand that one can make a cogent case regarding the basis of some of those -ve generalizations about Luos.I get it. 

I embrace it.More importantly, I am more than ready and willing, to have a discussion about these negative stereotypes and explain (a) why they are baseless and/or (b) how together, we can work to change the negative perception so that a critical mass of Kenyans holding said views are educated to the contrary.

Additionally, I am ready to have this discussion without playing victim, crying foul or resorting to violence. That’s not how I roll – even if I disagree with you.

Side Note: Some of the same Kenyans who play victim and claim “negative ethnicity” are the same ones who can offer a dissertation on how their “brothers and sisters from ‘the lake region’ or inner-city Chicago, Memphis or Baltimore etc. can free themselves from the ‘shakles” (sic) of (fill in the adjective de jour)”.

In a nutshell, this is the journey that brought America to November 4, 2008 when Barack H. Obama won the presidency and became America’s 44th President and its only non-white male POTUS.In one fell swoop, the idea that an African-American (male) could never be POTUS was forever rendered moot.Was it easy?

Hell NO!!It took America two hundred and thirty-two years, most of that pre-internet, but to paraphrase an MLK saying that I love, the arc of the moral universe eventually imbued enough white Americans to vote outside their “tribe” – as the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor at Yale Law School Amy Chua refers to the various voting blocs in America (Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations).

Americans of all colors and political persuasions shed blood, sweat and tears to get their country, warts and all, to this point – Donald Trump’s polarizing being notwithstanding.

The first step towards solving any problem, especially one as deep-rooted as tribalism/racism is admitting that the problem indeed does exist.Even better is when someone admits that THEY have a problem. 

The admission then allows for the definition, in clear concise language, what the actual problem is i.e. “Problem Statement” in problem-solving parlance.A problem statement devoid of emotions or bias is key in crafting viable solution/s.

Conversely, shrouding the problem statement or responsible parties in layers of victimhood, prevarications and/or outright dishonesty does not move the needle of progress forward at all.

It deflects focus, oftentimes onto the weak and powerless within the society, while simultaneously giving the supposed “victims” a feel-good narrative about their state/condition, one which is oftentimes tenuous at best.J

ust ask white Americans now increasingly faced with the “browning” of their society.