On Tuesday, I DJ’d a party for the Governor General of Canada celebrating Barack Obama’s Inauguration. It was a cool little affair that brought a diversity of youth together to discuss what this event means to us as young Canadians. Peace to Emcee E and Nomadic Massive who also performed. At the end of the blog I’ll post my playlist, since people often wonder what one might play at an event like that.
In as much as we are different, Canada and the U.S. in fundamental ways – landmass, population, density, demographics, political structure, etc. – we are the same in that we are neighbors and share the same land and, in broad strokes, share ideals about how life should be lived. This event and the reactions in the room showed how more than ever the American dream is really a North American dream that we all take part in.
Young people are definitely empowered by President Obama as a living example of change. It’s interesting, however, to see how hungry young Canadians are to play a role in and identify with this change. As neighbors to ground zero of the global Obama-wave, and a nation that is deeply interlinked with the U.S., it is natural and fair that we pose the question “where is our Canadian change?”, and not unreasonable that we would yearn somewhat for an Obama figure of our own – to give young people a sense that their voices participate as equals in their democracy. In this new vision of the North American dream, what will Canada’s role be and where will its youth place?
While Canada’s version of the dream is younger, less dense, a bit smaller, and more cautious, it is sturdy, perhaps a bit more agile, and has the advantage of being able to consider the trials and missteps of its older, bolder neighbor in order to innovate on that experience and those ideas – probably in a faster and more dexterous way as a result of being over 60 percent slimmer in terms of population and density. While we might not do the scaling up, we are in a great position to build the models. The climate will most certainly be ripe for the ideas. More than anything, I think that’s where young people, particularly in Canada, will be participating heavily. Whereas Barack finally opened the door for youth in the U.S. to participate in driving the U.S. with their vote, he might have also opened the window for young Canadians to make significant contributions to the welfare of this continent with their ideas – particularly with the U.S. school system in the state that it’s in. With any luck, the positive feedback loop between the two countries will help us retrofit the way that leaders lead in Canada, because one thing that was voiced repeatedly at the forum is that we need that kind of reform.
While the U.S. is being clear that it wants to set the pace, how can young people in Canada help to finish the race, considering our position as neighbors and co-participants in the dream? What is the most constructive way to set up this partnership? How can we see the innovations in the democratic process invoked over the border be brought into play over here?
And now, the inaugural playlist:
- We Almost Lost Detroit – Gil Scott Heron
- My People…Hold On – Eddie Kendricks
- Long Time Coming – Aloe Blacc
- Stakes Is High – De La Soul
- Resurrection – Common Sense
- The Souljazz Orchestra – Mista President*
- Black President (Feat Johnny Polygon) – Nas
- Voices At The Crossroads – Knaan f. Tracy Chapman*
- What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
- Change – Donald Byrd
- Get Involved – Soule, George
- Positivity (Mark Ronson ‘68 Remix) – Stevie Wonder
- Brand New Day – Staple Singers