Thursday, January 15, 2009

A departure

So. I've been privately working out more and more what my thoughts are on the election and looming inauguration. I am still thrilled and still a squeamish with said thrilled-ness that we get to get Barack Obama. Holy shit. Barack Obama.

I think a lot about what sort of nasty things will come to a head and what kinds of wonderful forces will repel them. I feel bit the kid in a candy store that I get to live in such a monumentally important point in history.

Back to the nasty things, though. Again, I believe this to be the crux of my own mixed up feelings on whether or not I get to be proud of our next president.

While I really don't think I think that just because I happen to be a white person living in America, that I am equally responsible for the reprehensible things my anscestors did during slavery, I also don't think that just because I happen to be white that I shouldn't get grouped into the herd with fucking yahoos who still perpetuate hate RIGHT NOW. The latter is much trickier for me to peel off.

Here's an email I got from a friend the other day:

"We got through the pediatrician (Phoebe) and the dentist(both kids) with only mild trauma, so I took the kids to the Perkins restaurant in Middletown for lunch to celebrate.

I was thinking, snobbishly, how everyone in the restaurant looked troglodytic, then chastising myself for making assumptions about people based on how they looked. I said something to the kids about how calm they'd been at the dentist's like, "Who's better than you? No one!"

And Phoebe laughed and said, "Well, sometimes some people are better--like Obama!" I felt suddenly self-conscious and worried,
then thought I was being paranoid to think that anyone at the restaurant would have a problem with a 5 year-old being excited about Obama. Well. Here are some snatches of the conversation I overheard at the next table:

"I didn't love him, but McCain..."

"Of the four of them, Sarah Palin was the only one qualified...experience...Alaska..."
[OK, so far it's just the usual Fox News talking points, nothing

"And he's not even American!"

"Now they're gonna think this evens everything

"Now one of them is President..."

"The day after the inauguration we're going to be
picking cotton."
[Big laughs over this. Sweet Jesus.]

"Someone's gonna whack him."

"Somebody SHOULD whack him."
[Then some discussion about what method
"somebody" should use. The consensus
is reached that explosives would be best, like "at
that federal building
down there." Holy fuck. I am in a nightmare. The rest
of the conversation
was just as lovely.]

When I went to pay and the manager asked how everything
was, I tried to make a joke about how it was fine except for the racists at the next table and burst out crying, just to add a little embarrassment to the agony.

Why am I always surprised by how awful some people are? And
why do I expect stupid people to be embarrassed by their idiocy and not broadcast it publicly?

I feel really scared about how many people in this country
think EXACTLY the way those guys do. Millions of people. And I don't mean scared for Obama.

That kind of talk--about fearing for his safety--is just a
distraction from the big fucking void at the center of this country where a soul should be. I mean scared for me, my kids, and the future of this country. I'm scared by how empowered these people have become, having been pandered to by the anything-for-a-vote end of the Republican party for so long.

I'm scared that so many people believe this line of thinking goes hand-in-hand with loving God and country. I'm scared that Phoebe's going to say something positive about Obama at school next year and get punched in the face for being a n-lover. I am just sick over it.

Going back into my bubble now."

My friend isn't white, she isn't black, but she isn't white. Like me. Like the fucks who wrecked her lunch.

For months and months I carried around a terrible fear that Obama was going to be assassinated; a sick, palpable fear, now I trust his protection more and more and that agony has been replaced by something not so sinister a thought process and I'm grateful for that because what happened in that nasty little restaurant in upstate NY is what I need to focus on, not how I can protect the life of my president and his family. Because I may be a bad-ass, but let's be serious.

I grew up with my grandmother and other family members talking about n-----s and "those people". I went to an integrated school in Boston in the 70's and I witnessed some maniacal hatred. I never want my kids to be a part of anything like that or like what happened at Perkins. And that's what I think Barack Obama is going to bring; he's going to bring the wonderful forces that will wipe away another layer of shit-spewing ignorance.

I am hopeful that Barack Obama, my black president, will make white people into better people.

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