Thursday, November 6, 2008

Closer To Gray?




Yesterday at work, the day following a historic election, I heard some things that troubled me. My desk put me within earshot of a conversation regarding the Presidential race. It began very amiably, as they were discussing work, but quickly evolved from there. The participants were two ladies, one white and in her middle twenties and one African-American in her early sixties. Having worked with them both I suspected the two outspoken personalities would eventually butt heads. Collide they did, in spectacular fashion, like the clashing of horns between two hormone enraged white-tail bucks.

The younger of the two had written a message on the white-board in her cubicle, “Sorry America….Barack won the election!!” It took only a few seconds before the elder voiced her opposition to the message.

“Why would you write something like that?” She asked in an obviously elevated tone.

“Because that’s how I feel.” When pressed for a more complete answer, rather convincingly she laid out her opposition to every major plan of President Obama’s, also her differing views on abortion and her reservations about his questionable associations. As any good debater would, the younger of the two turned the table and asked the elder what philosophies of Obama’s she supported? After a short pause she replied in an outburst loud of enough for the entire office to hear.

“I don’t have to support his philosophies or plans, and you’re obviously a racist!”

As I contemplated the conversation I wondered whether President Obama can really bring us closer to gray, the melding of black and white. I felt badly for them both. I truly believe the elder didn’t care to know Barack Obama’s philosophies or plans, voting for him because of the color of his skin. I also could relate to the young girl who had been unjustly lumped into the ‘racist pile’ simply because she did not vote for Obama.

When talking about the election and I reveal that I also did not vote for Obama the reactions are telling, not so much the words but the tone. “Oh, I see.” As if there is no other reason to have voted otherwise except for bigotry. Usually the conversation ends there, which doesn’t bother me that much. Most people will continue to believe what they want to believe. Actually, only a single person has ever flat out asked me if I would vote for a female or non-white president. With great certainty I smiled and crushed both his assumptions—“Condoleezza Rice, my friend!”

8 comments:

Angel C. said...

I'm sure many of us has experienced similar confrontations, and will continue to see them. I can relate to that young woman also. Will we come closer to gray now? That remains to be seen, but I also fear that we could go further from it just because of the reasons you've written about. Thanks for the good read.

Scott Clawson said...

I can relate also with the younger woman, and not because of color. I, and call me old fashion, like to make informed decisions on who to support based on their platform and belief. Not by color or gender. I served in the military during the first Desert Storm right next to good friends who were black, I work today with friends who are black. I have such friends outside of work. To lump me into a racial box just because I did not vote a certain way not only offends me, but my friends. Alas, until we stop seeing in color, we will never get over this divide. I do not refer to my friends and co-workers as black, I refer to them as friends and co-workers, period. We are Americans, a melting pot of all nations. That must never be forgotten and it must never be used for political gain. Thanks for putting your view out there, I enjoyed the conversation.

Jo said...

I agree with you totally Dan. I have to give the young one credit, her sign was just asking for rebuttal! But yet when we do exercise our freedom of speech, we are considered racist! It always comes down to that.

The very reason I quit writing about the election on my blog. I can't stand all the bickering this election has caused. My ultimate hope is that all this division and hate doesn't turn into a full blown world riot!

Terry from the Shagmar Report, also wrote a good blog post on this same subject which I really liked too.

On another note I don't envy President Obama, he has some pretty big issues to tackle in his new office. With the unemployment rate at it's lowest in 14 years today, and the stock market about to plunge again. We are all in for the hardest ride of our lives, and he's at the helm. I wish him much luck!

Dan said...

Angel, glad you stopped by. Just poked my head in at your site, but will return to catch up.

Scott, I'm right with you my man. I also was there for the first Desert Storm. Growing up in smalltown, America; the military provided my intial exposure to those that were not white & redneck(also a full set of teeth). You bring up many great points!

Jo, you're certainly right. I'm afraid no matter what we do America is in for a very hard ride. I'll have to check out Terry's piece.

Jo Janoski said...

I'm getting too old to have people yelling at me or calling me racist or anything else. Anymore, I just keep my politics to myself. The voting booth is the only place it matters in the end anyway. The rest of it is just words in the air, hot air, but nothing important.

punatik said...

I agree with Jo , Obama has his work cut out for him, as do we all. I didn't feel too inspired by Obama, but we'll see how he handles the situation. I feel for the younger woman at your office. It seems that if you're not for Obama, then you're a racist. That is so far from the truth.

Shirley said...

You make some very good points Dan. Actually, this election reminded me of jury nullification. I think we had a big case of voter nullification with many people voting against something rather than for something. I also think that for the first time the biggest portion of voters who based their vote solely on race were the African-American voters. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Dan said...

All great points. Jo J you're right, in the end only the 'pulling of the lever' matters!

Puna, time will tell. I pray for wisdom for all of our leaders as we face dubious economic times.

Shirley, we seem to continue down familiar paths, but ignorantly expect different results.