I thought so. I was pretty sure. I figured, “Eh, yeah, we’ll have a black president…when I’m 60…65…maybe older.”
And first we’ll have a woman.
And a continuing pile of old, white men before that.
(If I snark on old, white men, I do it gently, after all, that’s where I have to park my car.)
I like to think I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. I didn’t really grow up there, but I spent a lot of time with my Mama, who was a bookkeeper and did books for clubs ‘over there.’
(I also believe that’s where I got my love of blues and funk ’cause those clubs weren’t playing no Merle Haggard.)
Anyway, she did the books for lots of those clubs and had lots of friends and even though it was Midland, Texas – home of reformed drunk and future President George W. Bush – race never seemed to be a thing to me. People were people, as cornball as that sounds.
There is a story Mama used to love to tell, and I don’t remember it very well, but apparently I came home one day from a local park and told her all about some new friend I’d made. I went on and on, as both kids generally – and I specifically – are wont to do, and eventually she asked me about his race. According to her retelling of the story, I had a blank look on my face and was unable to tell her.
Black or white, I had no idea.
I don’t remember it but it made a pretty good impression on her. I went to Robert E. Lee High school, the Rebels (whose logo was, literally, the Confederate battle flag). There were a pretty good mix of races there but I don’t remember any problems. I’m sure there were, but being a white kid, they didn’t touch me much.
The point is I don’t remember race as anything other than genetic happenstance until I got to Lubbock, Texas to go to school. That’s where I remember discovering racists and and people who randomly and casually threw around ‘nigger this’ and ‘darkie that’ and all the rest of the crap.
Some of the talking head reporters are wondering if color played a role in the election and seem astonished that Barack Obama got 43% of the white vote. (Clinton did that well once and Carter did better, and that’s about it). I think color did play a role, but I think that color was green.
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
People were more frightened for their financial prospects than they were of a black man. ‘Don’t care what color you are, long as you can help me keep my job.’
But I do have to wonder: if Obama had been more visually black – that is, a wider nose and darker skin and long enough hair that it was more obviously kinky – how would he have done? Is it possible that white Americans who were not completely comfortable with him, were able to trump their discomfort because he didn’t look like the stereotypical criminal the media feeds us every hour of every day?
A random thought and it might well be a wasted thought because I do believe everything for the average American boiled down to the economy.
But…economy or not, I am still amazed at this country and proud of this country and still so in love with this country, though I am puzzled at how we could elect a black man while, at the same time, telling the gay and lesbian community around the country to fuck off. Check out some of the state ballot measures and how harshly anti-gay they are.
Baby-steps, I guess.
And we took a huge baby-step last night. So I’ll celebrate that for a while, then start working on the others.