2009 has been a tough year for so many of us. The economy spiraled downward and caused tumultuous times in our community. Many of us are jobless, homeless, without health care and in need of a break.

While one of the major stories of 2009 has been the economy, another is our Black president, Barack Obama. Now that was a big one, but along with his ascension to the presidency came a few obstacles: the economy, foreclosures, the bailout, the health care debate, the continuation of the Iraq war, escalation in Afghanistan, terrorism, the closing of Gitmo and the death of Ted Kennedy, who was helping Obama on the healthcare front.

In addition to the obstacles that were of no making of his own, Obama created a stir in New York State and New York City when he asked the sitting African-American governor, David Paterson, to not run in 2010, not to mention his non-endorsement, endorsement of William C. Thompson for mayor of New York City. Those two acts, in and of themselves, added to the scrutiny of what is a Black president doing for the Black community. A question that looms today over President Barack Obama’s head.

So the country has seen political change as well as economic hardship on every level. The city and the state have seen the same. A lame duck mayor who still believes that it is his way or the highway is running New York. We have had some changes in city government that are fresh and exciting as well. Cyrus Vance will take the reins of the Manhattan DA’s office, succeeding the tenure of one of the finest DAs the city has ever seen, Robert Morgenthau. John Liu, who will become the city comptroller, will be the first Asian-American to gain city-wide office in any American city not on the West Coast of the USA.

And we have Gov. David Paterson making difficult economic choices in Albany as the legislature takes its time just watching while the governor makes the tough decisions and takes all the blame.

Besides all the politics, the economy and the scandals that 2009 has brought us, there has also been a great sense of loss within our community.

This year, we have lost some of the biggest names of our times: Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, along with folks that meant so much to New York City like Percy Sutton, Wilbert Tatum, Sarah Wright, Chuck Sutton, Rev. Ike, Birdie Scott, Naomi Simms, Tunde Samuels and so many others that we lost too soon.

Still, we have to remember the triumphs. The president receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The Amsterdam News turning 100. But what we really have to focus on is that you who are reading this are still here among us.

We need to rededicate ourselves to the triumphs and successes of our community and remember that every day above ground is a good day. Let us hope that 2010 brings us peace on earth, jobs and health care for all. Happy New Year.