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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Can I vote for Michelle Obama?

I have been sitting on the election fence for some time now. So long in fact that my backside is beginning to get chaffed by the sharp edges of the fence and my political allies are beginning to wonder. You can only put off people for so long. Eventually they begin to fill in the blanks with their own answers. They become suspicious. They come to unsound conclusions. They talk.

In order to save myself the effort of endless diversionary moves, I have of late been doing some serious online research on the candidates. I was a Kucinich delegate in the last election so I needed some time to mourn his no longer being a candidate. It looks like I will have to settle for a less progressive alternative.

So, publicly, I am working on a tally of pros and cons for Clinton and Obama. Privately I am fantasizing about various political coups. Can Michelle Robinson Obama be the first black AND woman president? Can she and Kucinich team up for a super ticket? She is smart, articulate, incredibly well-educated, and is a mother. What is not to love?

But back to the tally.......

1. I like Clinton''s universal healthcare plan
2. I like the fact that Obama spoke out against the Iraq war when it was not popular to do so
3. I like Clinton's plans to make higher education more accessible and to institute student loan forgiveness
4. I like the fact that Obama is mixed like me and as a result identifies with a great many people. I like what he calls, "the sum of [his] parts"
5. I dislike the fact that neither one of these candidates appears to be unapologetically feminist. Saying that you support a woman's right to choose but consider abortion "horrible" and insist it should only occur on "rare" occasions (Clinton) or saying you support a woman's right to choose but sympathize with the anti-choice people because they alone understand the "moral" implications (Obama) does not cut it.
6. I like the fact that both candidates want to leave Iraq but am unhappy with both their timelines. Exactly how many people have to die before we leave?
7. I like the fact that Obama has experience working against racial profiling and working for poor people.
8. I don't like the fact that Clinton voted for the Patriot Act
9. I disilike the fact that neither candidate supports gay marriage
10. I don't like the fact that Clinton argued in one of her speeches that if we voted for her, there would be a "wife, mother, sister and daughter in the White house." Shouldn't a woman candidate be beyond an androcentric relational female identity?
11. I find Obama''s stance on racism far too timid and Clinton's stance on racism invisible.


Can someone bring me a pillow for my toush? Alas, despite my best efforts, it looks like I am stuck on this fence a bit longer.....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Indian Giving" and Other Racist Reminders

Yesterday, while pet-sitting for a friend in Sanford, Florida, I stood out in her driveway loading luggage in my car when two young white males walked by. Apparently perturbed by my brown skinned self in their lily-white cul-de-sac and further enraged by my "Support Indian Sovereignty" bumber sticker, they felt the need to remind me of my place. One boy loudly shouted to the other one, ""Hey Look, An Indian Giver."

I didn't look up. They were trying to get a rise out of me and I was not going to appease them. Or maybe I was just too shocked? Or maybe because as a person of color, I have developed such a thick skin and a slow response time to potentially dangerous stimuli that it sometimes takes a while for racist and derogatory statements to register? I don''t know. Maybe I should admit I was scared but that feels like defeat so I won''t. I was pissed.

I had been warned about this particular town and maybe I should have listened but after living all over this country, its not clear to me that racism is something I can avoid. Last year I was in my front yard in an entirely different part of Florida when a car full of white boys drove by and yelled "nigger" at me. It was the "Space Coast"- where the average citizen has post-graduate education and an income over $50,000. You don''t have to be a redneck to be a racist.

Am I a Black or an Indian? Does it matter? Racists, it seems, come in many sizes and shapes and their hate adapts.

Whether it is the little white boy in Frantz Fanon's story, saying to his mother, ""Look, a Negro", teenage redneck white boys saying "'Look, an Indian Giver," or a car full of rich white boys yelling, "Hey, Nigger" its meant as a reminder to those of us brown-skinned humans who have forgotten what our position is in society.

Just in case for a moment we have imagined we are human beings
living lives full of inspiring possibilities and beautiful promise........

The racists are always there to remind us.