Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Racist Incidents Against Obama Campaigners

Oh, yeah, here it comes. I was expecting it and, like clockwork, it's here. For those people who've been living in the fantasy world that racism -- or, as it should be called, white supremacy -- is over. Guess what? It ain't.

From Washington Post by Kevin Merida:
"Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause" —

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

This was my initial fear for an Obama candidacy. I feared for his life and the safety of his family. When the windows of my bookstore where covered in racial graffiti, it was made abundantly clear that this racism is still alive and kicking. If you had asked me just six months ago I would have told you that there was no way a black man could become president, but the Obama supporters, both black and white, and Obama himself have made me a believer. This country can handle a black president. But make no mistake this will not be easy. We will not all be singing Kumbaya upon his election. On the contrary, this may make the racial hatred in the country flare up even more. Instead of this quiet, smoldering hatred and discrimination, we will have to deal with the realities of where we are as a country. Instead of the pretense that America is the great light on the hill without fault, we will have to see ourselves for what we are. This is why Rev. Wright and so many others, including myself, are so angry. It's not because we hate America, it's because we love it and we can't stand to see a country that could be so great be so small. Those of us that want a "more perfect union" will have to roll up our sleeves and work for it.

This is why it was so painful to see the Clintons use race as a tactic in the campaign -- they know better. It was shameful to see Geraldine Ferraro go out as a surrogate for the Clintons to say the things that she did. Obama is lucky to be a black man? Tell that to Sean Bell , tell that to Amado Diallo, or Patrick Dorismond, or Abner Louima, tell that to the black men who've been tortured in prison, tell that to the Chicago 10 (or is it 20 or 100 we've lost count), tell that to every black man who lives in fear of being stopped and frisked for no reason or of being shot by criminal or cop. (I was glad to see the congressional delegation meet yesterday to investigate the NY police shootings. It's a start.)

Keep going, Obama. Lead us forward.


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