*Special thanks to J.I. for planting the seed for this post*
Well, it’s been almost a month since I’ve written and you all already know that I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long. I’ve actually had people write me with story ideas, urging me to just write about ANYTHING as long as I write something. And, I gotta admit, I’m touched! I didn’t think you guys cared that much. And I never thought that you’d miss me if I stopped writing. Who knew??
Since I’ve been blogging, what I’ve discovered about myself is that I write better when I’m actually motivated to write. My muse doesn’t speak to me as often as I’d like him to (muses, I believe, are traditionally female, but I am much more into men, so mine is a boy), and when he does speak, I will write anytime, anywhere. That means that I’ll start hammering out a post on the train, standing in the line to get my turkey on wheat sandwich at lunchtime, while I’m under the hairdryer at the hair salon, etc… whenever, wherever, by any means necessary.
Well, I’ve been waiting for my muse to strike… I’ve been on the lookout for him to appear, and I’ve been listening for his voice. But, lately, I hadn’t heard anything… until I was walking home from the train this evening. Now, first of all, I walked out of my office and had totally forgotten it would be dark outside by the end of my workday thanks to that stupid daylight savings time shit that we adhere to in the United States. I suspect that I might have SADS (seasonal affective disorder)… I think that I’ve mentioned this before, but when it gets dark early, I get depressed. Anyway, today, I realized that I wasn’t all that depressed even though it was pitch-black at 5:30pm. And the reason why I wasn’t depressed was because tomorrow is a big day for our country, y’all.
So, then it hit me. The one thing that I haven’t written about in this blog is tomorrow’s Presidential election and what it means to me.
Well, here it goes… in case anyone is listening and in case anyone cares:
I never – in a million years – would’ve thought that I’d see a name like that at the top of a Presidential election ballot in America. I am Black, and I’m also a woman… this means that I am a member of two groups of people who – historically – have been disenfranchised. So, whenever I would contemplate whether someone like me would be able to be elected President, I always assumed it would be a no-go. I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I’d never see a Black female elected President of the United States in my lifetime. But, then I got to thinking… maybe, just maybe, I could see a WHITE woman elected… or (an even bigger stretch in my mind) maybe I could see a Black MAN become President.
Now, the emphasis I placed on those words is important. Pay attention! I pretty much knew that there was a possibility that a woman could get elected… IF that woman was WHITE. And I had an inkling that a Black person could be a viable candidate… if that Black person was a MAN. But never, never, ever, ever did I think that I’d see a WHITE woman and a Black MAN pitted against each other in a race for the Democratic nomination for the United States Preisdency… I expected that maybe first a white woman would be introduced as a candidate. And then, a few years (or several years) down the line, a Black candidate would be brought to the forefront. And then, BOOM, it all happened at the same time.
I’ll admit. At first I was torn. Am I Black first, or am I a woman first? I always really liked Hillary Clinton (mainly because I hearted her hubby, Bill, so much!). She came to speak at my law school and I left her speech feeling inspired and empowered. I just knew that if she ran for President, she would have my vote. She’s smart, spunky, strong… a real “maverick” (LOL!). And I admired her so… actually, I don’t know why I wrote that in the past tense because I still do. But then, a viable Black candidate named Barack Obama burst onto the scene and turned the political world on it’s head. He had speaking abilities that caused him to be likened to MLK, a top-notch education, a damn-near immaculate personal history (relatively speaking, for a politician), a beautiful family, and a catchy slogan. He’s a Barack-star! (pun intended) And I thought, hmmm… maybe he’s what America needs. Even though he caused me to doubt my faith in Hillary, I had pretty much decided that America was more ready for a white female President than a Black male one, so I continued to side with Hillary.
I did some research on both candidates just to be sure that I was making an informed decision. I remained a Hillary supporter in spite of the fact that I liked a lot of the things that Barack was saying, but I wasn’t sure that he’d be able to pull off a race against any of the more established Republican candidates… and more than I wanted to see a Democrat in the White House, I wanted to ensure that I would NOT see a Republican in the White House. So, I threw my support behind the Democrat that I thought would be most likely to dethrone Bush. In fact, I remained a lukewarm Hillary supporter until the day I went into the voting booth during the primaries. I walked up to that voting machine and saw that Black man’s name at the top of the ballot… and I kept hearing his voice echo in my head… “Change, change, change”. I know it sounds dramatic and cliché, but that’s really how it happened. And, I just couldn’t leave that booth without voting for Obama. So, he got my vote.
I’m not going to lie. That first vote in the primaries got cast for Obama because he is Black. I don’t feel guilty about that either… Let’s keep it real, y’all… white people have been doing that shit FOR YEARS. And just because Obama is the first viable Black Presidential candidate that America’s ever seen, I felt like I had to vote for him. I wanted to help give him that shot in the dark. Even if he couldn’t pull off beating the Republican candidate for President, he’d still make history for being the first Black person to receive the nomination of a major political party. That was worth something. I was happy with my decision…
And then, I got to know more about the man and became more and more of a supporter. People attacked him, and instead of attacking them back, he played fair. I watched him relate to people young and old, rich and poor, Black and white. I heard him deflect accusations, consistently handle himself with dignity and grace, unabashedly love his wife and children, and present clear solutions to societal problems in a concise manner that even “Joe Six Pack” (barf) can understand. I watched him become a favorite among young people. After awhile, Obama’s candidacy became less and less about race and more and more about hope, and change… it sort of reminded me of something I’d heard about Bobby Kennedy. I was reading a review of the movie “Bobby” that was released a few years ago, and a critic said that the interesting thing about the movie “Bobby” is that Bobby Kennedy – as a character – is nowhere in it. The movie is all about the hope that Bobby inspired throughout the Nation during his Presidential campaign and how that hope changed people’s lives. That’s what I see Barack doing now. There is a spirit in the air… an excitement that I haven’t ever witnessed before. Barack Obama is like Bobby Kennedy was to his generation… except Barack isn’t rich, he isn’t white, and he wasn’t born into a political dynasty. He got to where he is today on the strength of his own ability… and not BECAUSE of his name, but IN SPITE of his name. I took all this in and I thought… this man deserves my votes on his own merits, NOT simply because he is Black. At that moment, my mind was made up – I was with Obama.
To give you an idea of just how much he has affected people from all different walks of life, I’ll share a few examples from people that I know personally:
One of my friends from work is a 24 year old white sorority girl from a small town in Pennsylvania. She lives in DC, but has traveled back home to Pennsylvania on her own dime (she doesn’t make much) at least three times in the last year to knock on doors for Obama.
Another good friend is a very glamorous Harvard lawyer who works in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. She gave up her Christmas vacation to go to Iowa and canvass for Obama’s campaign. For a week, she braved the cold air and the hard bed in the local Holiday Inn to ensure that Barack won the Iowa primary.
I was out at dinner at Max Brenner in Union Square during my recent visit to New York City. A gaggle of white pre-teen girls walked by my table on their way to use the restroom and every one of them had on something that said “Obama”… a pin, a t-shirt, a hat, etc. It was really very cute… and disarming.
My father has “adopted” a family of 8 where the children range in age from two months to 18 years old. When we gave my father his birthday celebration, the family joined us. Alonte, the six year old was walking around asking everyone if they were going to “vote for Obama or McCain”. I asked him why he was asking everyone that question and he said, “cause I’m gonna vote for Obama and then we’re gonna have a Black President”. I told him that he won’t be able to vote because you have to be 18 to cast a vote in a Presidential election. And he said, “then YOU vote for Obama… and then we’re gonna have a Black President.” Well, alrighty then. If only it were so simple!
My grandmother, who is 80 years old and has mobility issues, has been obsessed with Obama ever since he announced his candidacy. We watched him accept the nomination together and she wept as he spoke. She said, “Thank you, Lord. I just never thought I’d live to see this day.” This same woman who we can barely get to leave the house more than once per month dressed herself and left her apartment of her own volition to cast an absentee ballot about a week ago. She said it was one of the proudest moments of her life.
MBF left work early today and skipped a happy hour *gasp* to volunteer at the DC for Obama headquarters from 4-6pm. They asked him to use his own cell phone to call voters in Virginia and encourage them to vote. He agreed. And this is a dude who is ALWAYS complaining about making or receiving phone calls before 9pm. “Gotta watch my minutes!” Ha!
The New Guy (yes, he’s still around and not at all “new” anymore – but still great!) left for Europe on October 15 and will be there until the middle of December. Before he left the country, he cast an absentee ballot in Virginia (where he’s from). He’s lived in New York for a few years now, but decided to vote – early – in Virginia because, “I figured he’d need my vote in Virginia a lot more than he’d need my vote in New York.” What foresight! Hmm… isn’t he dreamy? *sigh*
A few Sundays ago, a woman stood up at a church function and told us that she was 92 years old and has voted in every election in which she was eligible. She said that even though she doesn’t get around very well anymore and she was certain that the lines on Election Day would be long, she was refusing to cast an absentee ballot. She explained that this election was more important to her than any other and that she wanted the experience of walking up the steps to her polling place, standing in line, and physically casting her ballot on Election Day. And that’s exactly what she’s going to do tomorrow.
Barack Obama has touched people’s lives in a way that nobody has before. He has crossed color, class, and culture lines to emerge as the most capable candidate overall. Now, of course, this is just my lil old humble opinion. And, if you decide not to vote for Barack, I defend your right to do so. That’s what America is about… the exchange of ideas. In America, we have the right to have a difference of opinion. And that’s a beautiful thing! What matters most is not for whom you vote, but that you vote. Period. Someone once said that bad politicians are elected by good citizens who do not vote… You may have to read that a few times in order to really get it, but think on that…
Ask yourself - wouldn’t it be nice to have a capable, intelligent, level-headed, thoughtful President in the White House for a few years? If you are still undecided, and you answered yes to that question, I’ve got news for you… there’s only ONE candidate that fits that bill. Vote for him.
Anyhoo, folks, I am writing this on the eve of one of the most important days in America’s history. Whoever wins will make history – Barack Obama for being the first Black President in US history and John McCain for being the oldest, whitest, most out-of-touch President of all time. Sheesh! And, let’s face it, whenever people make history, it’s a great thing! But, the most important thing… the thing that makes me want to dance a jig every time I think about… whoever wins will NOT be George Bush. Good riddance, Dubya!
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Ok, people… Get out there and Barack the vote!!