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!”