Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Could It Really Happen?

Sorry, Kim, I'm staying mum about it right now. :-) I've written a little bit about the division in the Democratic party and I am torn between really not understanding it (which puts me and my interpretations at the center) and empathizing with the very real sadness and betrayal some people feel. Kim and I were texting furiously last night about Obama as the Democratic nominee and I was also talking to Mrs. O who, while feeling reservedly happy, asked me, "Isn't it still a little sad, though?" Because either of the candidacies would've been historic. Because, as nice as it is to see a black man become the presumptive nominee, it's hard to see a woman, who waged a hard battle, who has given a lifetime of service to her party, not.

But I'm going to focus on my feelings about the Obama candidacy. I have a wealth of emotions, of course. There have been points in my life where I thought a serious African American contender for the U.S. presidency was damn near impossible. Obama's candidacy has made the sweetest feeling wind through me, a combination of happiness, the hope that he talks about, and pride.

And yet it is all tempered. Kim and I talked about our fear last night, a fear shared by many, I know. I am afraid that someone will attempt to take his life. Part of me does not believe "they" will let him win or let him hold office for long.

But there are other fears, too. I expect many of my fellow Americans to turn out to vote against a black candidate. The rise of the "polite racists," as I call them. The people who believe that just because they don't use the n-word or burn crosses or beat people in the streets, they can't be racist. Yet, they'll doubt the ability of a black man to lead this country and they'll blame their worries on a host of other factors.

Then there is the fear that the Republicans have mired us so deeply in this mess, that, if elected, he will not be able to help us climb out as quickly as people would like. I don't want him to be judged a failure because of someone else's bullshit. And to be honest, though it is unfair and invalid, you know there will be people waiting for him to fail to prove that a black person is not fit to be president. And if that happens, and I'm still writing years from now and publicly wonder whether or not George W. Bush is evidence that white men are not fit to be president, I predict such a rumination will be quickly dismissed.

But back to my happy thoughts: Michelle Obama. To think of a poised, educated, accomplished-in-her-own-right black woman as first lady makes me beyond happy. I smile every time I visit culture kitchen and see her picture with the caption, "First Lady of the United States (get used to it)." I have to purse my lips to keep from grinning.

And so I am excited, apprehensive, loving seeing this as a black woman and a historian.


Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

"I expect many of my fellow Americans to turn out to vote against a black candidate. The rise of the "polite racists," as I call them." -elle

I'm sad to say this, but some of my family members were talking about doing this very thing yesterday. I know they are anti-war and voted Democrat in the past, and nothing but that he was black explained their opposition. They would never hang a noose. They have black "friends." (I use the term loosely, because it's hard for me to imagine being a true friend to someone you are quietly biased against.)

Michelle Obama? She would have gotten my vote, first round, hands' down. I wish she was running!

Kimberly said...

I hear what you are saying. In a lot of ways women and minorities are held to a higher standard. And Bush has screwed us up so badly....progress is going to be hard - especially in a president's first year of office.

I fear too that ugliness will really rear its head and all the progress we think or perceive has been made will be halted. I fear it will be an us vs them mentality that we saw a little of in the primary, but more even more splintered. Following this lenghty primary season has the media and candidates dividing us all up into these groups or demographics and I fear they are perpetuating division that could be really ugly in the fall. And I don't mean just black vs white or female vs male. I mean all of it: black women vs white women, uneducated vs educated, hard working white americans vs hard working black americans vs hard working latinos.....and on and on.

I fear this election could bring out the ugly side in many of us. I pray I'm wrong.

Having said that - there is, too, a part of me that was disappointed for Clinton. She wanted this badly. She fought for it. And she is MORE than worthy. I do not agree with many of the tactics she decided to use, and I do believe she underestimated her competition and relied too much on name recognition in the beginning. But she is such a BRILLIANT woman - much more so than many of her peers.

The bottom line had she won the nom and won the general election, she too, would have been held to higher standard. People would be looking for her to fail too. People would be waiting for the first time she seemed emotional or fragile. We definitely have a long way to go to overcome so many of these "ISMs".

Anonymous said...

i share your fears. because i know "they" will always pull some shit out of the air and try to ruin it. but i pray it won't happen, and i'm hopeful.

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