Okay, Fine, The Crying Thing

I’m willing to take my lumps for being all girly and crying after voting.  Fine, tease away.  I have a soft, uncynical part, I admit it.

But we have to talk a second about this whole “I don’t understand why a white girl would cry about being able to vote for Obama” thing.

See Roger Abramson:

Aunt B. cried in her car after voting for Barack Obama. I guess I don’t get that. I mean, I can see why a black voter would (and presumably some do) get that emotional about voting for Obama, but I don’t see why a white person would. Feel good about it? Yeah, maybe. But cry? Huh. I don’t know. I’m not saying she’s wrong to have done that–emotional reactions are what they are. But it certainly does lend credence to the idea that Obama wins hearts rather than minds. Which, of course, usually wins elections. [Emphasis mine]

I mean, come now, Roger, really?  First of all, don’t you miss habeas corpus?  The 4th Amendment?  Not having to worry about walking into a drug store only to discover that the pills you’re taking to keep from bleeding all over the floor have been declared by the Feds to be an abortifacient, if the pharmacist decides they are, and so you can’t get them?  Remember when a U.S. president could meet the Chancellor of Germany without it turning into “Night of the Creepy Frat Guy”?  When Presidents and their friends knew better than to play “John McCain has a Birthday” while people are dying in the streets of New Orleans?

If John McCain wins, I’ll feel a slight tinge of relief that at least we’ve made it through the Bush Presidency.

But if Obama wins?

Damn straight I’ll probably cry in relief.

But let us move on to point number two, which is this bizarre notion that it’s weird for a white person to be emotional about the prospect of a black president.  I almost don’t know how to begin to address this.  I could give you the long history, if you need to see some family credentials, but the short version of it is this.  One, many of my dad’s dearest friends in the ministry in Illinois are black ministers.  Men whose wives were also teachers, like my mom.  Their kids, who played with us and fought with us and were our friends, were our age.

I remember like it was yesterday when we opened up the paper to see the obituary for one of my dad’s friends, and my dad calling in shock and confusion, we were just down the road, why had no one called?  Only to discover that his friend was still alive.

It was later on in the week when they made the actual attempt (luckily failed) on his life–members of his all white congregation who didn’t want a “nigger” for a pastor.

Two, my cousin, M., who is just a year older than me, the daughter of my beloved Uncle B. is part Native America, and is a lovely dark brown, though in terms of facial features, she looks quite a bit like my Grandma A.  In other words, you would not look at her and say “That’s an African-American person” since she is not black and has very typical European-American features.

And yet, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I heard her called “nigger.”

No, I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.  I’ve never been and I won’t be.  But I can recognize the stinging fear and anger on the faces of the people who love me and who I love in return when they are singled out for derision based on their skin color.

And, god damn it, you know what I want?  I want people to stop calling people I love “nigger.”  I want them to think that trying to kill the people I love is evil and wrong and not something they should even attempt, let alone think they have public support for.  I want my nephew, who’s being raised by the Klan, to get the message, somehow, that peope are people and that anyone can be president and that he doesn’t have the right to try to stop them just because he doesn’t like what color they are.

I want the people I love to have proof that there is room for them in America, that the bullshit they face, though inexcusable, is just that, bullshit, and not some great truth about them or about America.

I mean, why wouldn’t I, even as a white girl, get emotional about something so important to the people I love?  Who, in one case, share my blood?

Here’s the truth of it, Roger.  I can’t draw the clear line between me, Whitey McWhiterson, and them, Nonwhitey Mcnonwhitersons, that would be necessary for me to adequately answer your question.

10 thoughts on “Okay, Fine, The Crying Thing

  1. B, why are you justifying yourself? If Roger can’t understand that moving past a barrier (especially a barrier that one thought was higher, or father away) has emotional resonance for everyone, not just for people who look a certain way, that’s his loss. And I say that kind of sadly, because usually I respect his take on things even when I disagree.

    For me, the true emotional moment was voting in the primary: seeing both Obama and H. Clinton on that ballot made me all verklempt. Voting in the general didn’t have the same impact on me: I had this “yeah, cool” reaction but also a “yeah, that’s right, I’ve seen that name on the ballot before; I could sure get used to this” reaction as well.

  2. Well said, B.; well said. I send a big virtual hug and kiss to you.

    Let’s talk about this white privilege that Mr. Abramson seems to want to ignore. A good friend of mine used to work for a hobby shop; he handled most of the major sales and purchases of the shop. He once told me that his professional behavior (often terse and aggressive) toward customers (mostly middle-aged white men) would never work if he were anything other than a white male. Mind you, this friend is a lifelong Republican.

    B., I think you spell out something fairly obvious, something that Mr. Abramson and many others refuse to recognize. It is one thing to acknowledge that our nation has a sordid, tragic history of officially and unofficially marginalizing non-white people. It is another thing to live in the skin of the marginalized.

    Some people (like you, B.) choose to recognize the difference. Others seem to want to ignore the depth and complexity of what our history forces us all to deal with.

  3. Jesus Christ, DADvocate. You really think not allowing people on your plane means you’re going to gut the 1st Amendment? You know McCain has kicked people off his plane, too, right?


  4. I would love to see a bit more Caracas on the Potomac. Starting with a candidate winning a fair and square majority, for a change.

    But this:

    Hugo Chavez has long used mob intimidation to pressure opposition forces into submission.

    I guess it is still fashionable to casually toss around smears about Venezuela’s populist government.

    Notice the above-mentioned allegation comes without so much as a link to another right-wing soap box (much less any evidence).

  5. Delurking to say I’m a white woman on the other side of the world, without being able to vote in this election.

    But I can guarantee I will cry like a baby if Obama gets in. Not only for relief because finally a more socially equitable policy may be on the cards, but also because it’s fucking history, right in front of your face. That man may be the first black American president. And that’s awesome.

  6. Aunt B.,

    When Senator McCain’s campaign kicked off Maureen Dowd, the NY Times still had a reporter on the plane. Senator Obama’s campaign removed reporters who provided daily coverage. The two are not comparable.

    I don’t think that means a President Obama will end up as Hugo Chavez (something that will disappoint many of his supporters on the Left) but it suggests a degree of intolerance for coverage that the campaign does not like.

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