Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not the Right Color

If it isn't obvious already, I'm just going to state it right up front so there's no confusion.

I am a Democrat.

I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in November.

I am voting for them for one simple reason: they give me hope.

I am not voting for them because one is black and the other is not.

My vote is not about the color of skin. It is not about religious affiliation. It is not about sexual orientation. It is not about socio-economic status. It is not about any of the demographic markers that are repeatedly bandied about as somehow meaningful and important in people's decision-making processes.

My vote is about ensuring we break the cycle of destruction and indifference that has placed its stranglehold on the country I love and is threatening to leave us the weakest of nations and in the dark.

My vote is about selecting the two people I believe will do the best job of restoring respect for our nation, ensuring domestic success for our people, and securing peace without war in the world.

So, I'm disturbed when, last night, after watching history being made wherein the first person of color was nominated by acclamation to be the Democratic nominee for president and after listening to Joe Biden's acceptance speech in Denver, I was reading some follow-up in the Washington Post and I read this:

But even as he won the nomination, there was open talk in the convention city that Obama's race remained a stumbling block to winning the White House.

"A lot of white workers ... and quite frankly a lot of union members believe he's the wrong race," AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told a breakfast meeting of Michigan delegates.

Did you catch that? Are you as disturbed as I am? Does this Richard Trumka guy speak for all of the AFL-CIO? Is this the sentiment in the executive suite of the AFL-CIO? Is this the official word from the AFL-CIO? I'd like to know. In fact, I'd like to hear those exact words--"A lot of white workers... and quite frankly a lot of union members believe he's the wrong race"--come out of the month of AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney.

Frankly, I don't believe it. And I'm sick and tired of pundits and politicians and cable news talking heads telling us Obama's color is a problem.

It is a stumbling block, because they want it to be.

It is a stumbling block, only if we, the voting public, the American people, choose for it to be.

For me, it is not a stumbling block.

What I want to ask Trumka is, "What is the right color?"

Oh, I know, I know. Duh. It's so obvious, I can't believe I didn't think of it immediately. White is the right color. Well, just like heterosexuals arguing that homosexual marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage in this country when the track record for straight marriage isn't exactly stellar, I'm not sure arguing that white is the right color for the president is any more salient.

With 232 years of white presidents under our belt in a country that engaged in and continues to engage in open and often hostile discrimination against a broad swath of demographic labels, I'm not sure suggesting white is the right color is the argument I'd use to persuade people against voting for a black man.

Are we really still that myopic and stupid? Really?! Are we really still thinking about the races in 21st century B.C. terms?

White people have done more than their share of making a mess of this country. Surely a black man can't do any worse. Perhaps, he might actually do better. And it won't be because of the color of his skin, boys and girls. It will be, I believe, because "of the content of his character."

Maybe that seems quaint and provincial to you, but after watching eight years of the impact of character content on our country, I believe character, more than race, matters.

In November, I am unequivocally marking my ballot box for Obama/Biden. I am voting for hope and the continued belief that our nation can be noble and strong and successful while still being safe and open. I am voting for Obama/Biden because the other option is just more of the same and that, my friends, is a stumbling block.


Jess said...

This is very, very well said.

Gilahi said...

Sadly, very sadly, I'm afraid that it truly is a stumbling block for a significant percentage of our population. And if Senator Clinton had been nominated, she would have been the wrong gender for approximately the same set of stupid reasons. As I've mentioned many times, I was born and raised in the deep south. While we don't have a stranglehold on this sort of attitude by any means, I did grow up surrounded by it. It's stupid, and it hurts me. I only hope the voting public has a lot more intelligence than I generally give them credit for.

Anonymous said...

I am putting all the hope that I have left -- after decades of corrupt white men having dragged our country through the mud -- into Barack Obama. He speaks to my mind, my heart, and my almost-lost vision.

If he doesn't win, I will f***ing , .. &*^&^&% (&)(*_)_\\

I can't even speak -- just thinking about that horrible scenario.

- Phoebe

j.m. tewkesbury said...

Jess: Thanks!

Gilahi: I don't mean to sound naive, but that just makes me sad. I hope the voters are more intelligent, too. I want to believe we are.

Phoebe: Amen!

Cele said...

I remember a conversation you and I had not so long ago, it has remained with me all this time. A nd then earlier this week there was discovery of an assasination plot. I was so very sad for my country, this country I love, we are so incredibly backwards.

IF Barack Obama is the wrong color it's because those who think so base their ignorance on something as circumstantial as pigment. PIGMENT, not values, not sincerity, not a desire and determination to do right by their country, but friggin' Pigment.

Will voters continue to put into office people who have no respect for the Constitution our country is founded on? Will voters continue to vote into office the "OLD Boys' Club" and thereby do wrong to our country...again? Will voters elect into office the wrong person just because of pigment? God, is there no hope for us?

And to the man from Michigan, wrong color? Dude even South Africa has changed.

Wicked H said...

I am late to the party but will second Jess in repeating well said and written.

I will proudly vote for Obama.

I will go further to state that if McCain thought by adding an unknown female to his ticket thinking he may get my vote, then he is a bigger moron than ever before.

Maya said...

You go girl! I can't believe:

a. that he actually said that and
b. that they put it in the paper!

You think the country has come so far and then you hear something like that. So disturbing!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: And to the man from Michigan, wrong color? Dude even South Africa has changed. I couldn't have said it any better than you did. Brilliant! And AMEN!

Wicked: Obama is right. McCain just "doesn't get it." Frankly, I find McCain's choice insulting to the collective intelligence of women.

Maya: Trumke's statement was so baffling to me, I actually emailed the AFL-CIO and asked them if this was their official stance on Obama. I'm still waiting for a response.

Lucy said...

Try living in Arizona and picture four more years with McCain at the helm. Excedrin, please!

j.m. tewkesbury said...

Lucy: McCain has got to go. I can't believe the good people of Arizona keep electing him. Oh, wait. Yes I can. It's a demographic similar to the folks who keep electing Orrin Hatch to the Senate.

Anonymous said...

No worries, Janet... there are a lot of people who think and behave like that... but you know something? Those people are about to get the political ass-whooping of their lives.

If you can use my blue collar, knuckle dragging, "white union working" colleagues from upper Montgomery county, Maryland as a yardstick, McCain is as good as cooked.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Gunfighter: I sure as hell hope so!

speener said...

Late to the party also. I have to say that as much as I believe that we will elect Obama President, it annoys me that it will be this hard when the choice is this obvious. The only reason that makes sense that people are voting with their intolerance as opposed to their intelligence.

There's the realization in the black community that you can't be as good as your white peers to succeed, but you need to be twice as good. I think Obama is more than twice better than McCain - hopefully the public notices

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Spencer: It annoys me that it will be this hard when the choice is this obvious.

Very well said and I couldn't agree more! The problem is obvious and the solution is obvious, but there are so many who will miss the mark for a variety of reasons that hold little validity: he's black, he's not black enough, he has no foreign policy experience, his middle name is Hussein... Where's the intelligence in that kind of thinking?! Honestly America, grow up!

As for being twice as good, I hope the day comes when all of us, regardless of demographic, can just be good and have that be enough. As long as white men sit at the apex of the hierarchy, though, it will be a long time coming. Hopefully, Obama will tip the balance and we'll stop qualifying the value of human beings based on their color, gender, marital status, religion, etc.