It’s About Change – Race, Class and the Re-Election of Barack Obama


I have been reminded of three incidents involving a stranger, a friend and an acquaintance the days following President Obama’s historic re-election.

First, I will relay the incident with the stranger. When I was a teenager, I loved reading fashion magazines to see all the latest trends and beauty products. I was reading the letters to the editor of one magazine and discovered that, for the first time ever, a black model had graced the cover the previous month. The letters from readers were mostly positive for this “bold” move. I thought it was ridiculous to consider the model’s selection for the cover as bold given the time period was the late 1980s-early ‘90s. The last letter, however, changed my mind. It was from a woman who explained that while she applauded the magazine’s decision to select a black woman as the cover model she also appreciated her white world. If she wanted to look at black models, she would buy a black fashion magazine. Simply put, she did not appreciate seeing a black woman on the cover the magazine. As I scanned the inside of the magazine, I discovered the articles, advertisements and photos were still geared towards her “white world” and I was sure it was same for the previous month. That, obviously, was either lost or did not matter to the reader. She still felt her world – as she knew it – was being compromised.

The second incident involves a friend. We were chatting during a break in our work day. He began to tell me how he had railed against an officer some months earlier who had pulled him over for speeding. He went on and on about he interrupted the officer while he was speaking and shouted expletives at him. When I asked him if the officer responded to his tirade, he said he didn’t. My friend said the officer just looked at him and let him go with a warning. When I told him I found it hard to believe that he could get away with such disrespect and disregard of an officer and his instructions, he thought a moment then said, “It probably would have gone differently if I weren’t white.”

The third incident involves a social media acquaintance the day after President Obama’s re-election. The acquaintance was upset at the results but resigned to the outcome. I knew her political leanings from earlier posts throughout the campaign so her written tantrum wasn’t surprising. However, a comment written in response to her post caught my eye. The commenter was also upset, but the reason was enlightening. He was saddened because “the America of my parents and grandparents is gone.”

Yes, America is changing. Whether it is for the better or worse depends solely upon your perspective. President Obama’s re-election proved that White privilege no longer assures victory. It is not enough to be White, male and rich. It is not enough to play on the emotions of middle class whites by promising action without clearly defining an action plan. Rich, white males are going to have to put forth the effort, i.e. work, and seriously consider what is best for all Americans and not just be concerned about one class (upper) while stirring up the inherent fears in another (middle). White men can no longer play the race card.

It is also not enough for black men to blame society for a lack of opportunity and/or direction. At one time, there were chains and laws that prevented them from sharing in the American dream. The only chains and laws preventing them now are the ones placed and enacted through generation after generation of mindsets. Every door isn’t open just as every door isn’t open for poor whites, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. However, enough doors are open so that with a sufficient amount of drive, goals and the desire to achieve those goals, i.e. work, success can happen. Black men can no longer play the race card.

Race is the superficial issue at hand; the core is class. The Haves versus the Have-Nots. The classes are blinded by race because, historically, the Have-Nots have been Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic groups. That is no longer the case. Economic hardships affect all races but not always all classes. Unfortunately, we live in a world where a disproportionate amount of Haves are not willing to share a portion of their wealth and influence to assist the Have-Nots, which are the majority. I’m not referring to welfare or hand-outs; I’m referring to a fair representation of taxes to ease the burdens of millions of hard-working and tax-paying citizens. It is common sense that, in a country that assesses taxes, those who have more should pay more. Instead, the Haves play on the fears of the Have-Nots by threatening to terminate workers, suspend cost of living increases or close companies and move to other countries with weaker policies. The Haves know that money is a motivator because it is what motivates them, not loyalty to country or concern for the masses. The Haves garner the support of the Have-Nots because the Have-Nots fear losing their jobs and all for which they have worked. The Haves continually play on the Have-Nots fears out of their own fear of compromising –not losing – the abundant wealth they have accumulated. That fear is being projected upon the President – a black man from meager beginnings who, by all conventional wisdom, did not stand a chance of being elected the leader of the free world much less re-elected. He has shaken the certainty of the white world. He is proof that America’s old way of thinking is falling by the wayside. His re-election signals the end of playing race cards.

America is now a true melting pot of ethnicities and a land of opportunities for all. Those sentiments are no longer just propaganda distributed to the rest of world. We’re finally living it. We can accept this change and work together. Or, some can continue to resent this change and refuse to bend. All businesses know that they must adapt to change in order to maintain their standings or they will fold. The same holds true for societies. Now is not the time for arrogance, hate-mongering and posturing. We need to come together as Americans without all the labels and fears. Our refusal to do so will, ultimately, result in our downfall.


It’s Not About Race – 2012 Presidential Election Editorial


The election was not about race.

On November 5, 2008 – the day after the 56th presidential election in which Barack Hussein Obama was elected the first African American (or black or, for the nit-picky, biracial) Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America, I walked into my place of employment expecting the usual syrupy, “Good morning, darling,” from the nice grandmotherly receptionist. Instead, she barely looked up as I passed her desk. She did not speak to me. I shrugged it off, thinking she may be having a bad morning. Little did I know at the time that her “bad morning” would continue with me and select others for the remainder of the work week.

I walked to my desk expecting to be greeted with the usual office chatter, but there was none. Only the humming of office equipment and distant chimes of incoming calls could be heard. When I made it to my desk, I asked a co-worker what was wrong. He looked behind him at our other co-workers who pretended not to hear my question, their attentions firmly set upon their computer monitors. He then rolled his chair close to me and whispered so softly I could barely hear him, “What do you think?” It took a second for it to register. I then chuckled at his insinuation and shook my head no. He nodded yes and slowly rolled back to his cubicle. I turned around and began preparing for my day. He is being paranoid, I thought. The atmosphere in this place is reminiscent of a funeral. The heaviness in the air couldn’t only be the reaction to the election. Obama was President-elect; he hadn’t even taken the Oath of Office yet. Besides, the election was not about race. It was about being progressive, righting the wrongs of old policies and mindsets so America could regain and retain its position as the leader in an ever-changing world.

Later that morning, a female supervisor to whom I did not report asked me to join her in her office. Another lady from her team followed us. She made sure the office door was shut then offered us a seat. She looked at us, beaming.

“I am so happy about last night,” she said, finally. I noticed she, too, was whispering.

I returned her smile but said nothing. My co-worker, however, expressed similar sentiments.

“We can’t show it, though,” the supervisor continued, “because they are mad as hell. We have to stay neutral, OK?” “They” were the Caucasian majority in the office.

I remained silent. The co-worker next to me offered her opinion which matched the supervisor’s. We left her office a few minutes later, smiles erased, pretending we were discussing other matters.

I walked back to my desk, somewhat ashamed. That was the type of attitude the election was supposed to end, the old “Us” versus “Them”. How could she automatically assume another group was enraged over an election that was decided by the popular vote? An election by popular vote meant “they” had voted for Obama, too. The supervisor’s statements, to me, reeked of reverse racism. We needed to get beyond those attitudes.

The election was not about race.

I noticed I had voice mail when I returned to my desk. A client was having an on-going issue with receiving his daily reports. It was a programming issue that I, as level one support, could not resolve. I facilitated a conference call with the client and the level 2 support – the man who actually developed the program. Together we accessed the client’s computer via remote. The client and the level 2 associate had met and were on friendly terms. The client and I were also friendly but had never met. The conversation turned to the election.

“What do you think about last night?” the client asked Level 2.

It was apparent to me that Level 2 did not want to discuss the election given the time he took to craft his response. “I think the decision was made and we have to live with it,” he said.

The client’s level of perception, however, was limited because he continued. “I don’t have to live with anything. I did not and would not vote for him. I’m so pissed right now.”

Level 2 laughed nervously, “Well, now, I think we should give him a chance…”

“I’m not giving him anything,” the client interrupted then paused for a beat. “You know, they say his role model is Abraham Lincoln. What do Lincoln, Kennedy and Obama have in common?”

I am not at all embarrassed to say that Level 2, being an older gentleman (I know because we had met on several occasions), was way sharper than me. While I seriously pondered the question, he attempted to steer the conversation back to the programming issue the client was having.

The client was having none of it. “Come on, what do they have in common?”

Level 2 sighed. “I don’t know. What do they have in common?”

“Nothing… yet,” the client said and laughed as if it were the funniest thing he’d heard in a long, long time.

Level 2 chose not to respond. Instead of attempting, he forcefully steered the conversation back to the reporting issue. He told the client he would need to do some research and would call him with a resolution in a few minutes. The call ended. I hung up the phone, disappointed as my opinion of the client was lowered.

My desk phone rang about ten minutes later.

“Hey, we got off the phone before I could tell you how much I appreciate you getting the programmer involved in resolving this mess with the reports,” the client said.

“No problem, that’s my job. Hopefully, this time we’ll get it resolved instead of patched,” I replied, my tone dry on purpose hoping the call would end quickly.

“No, no. I really want you to know that I appreciate you and all that you do. You have been excellent and I truly enjoy working with you,” he said.

“Thank you. You’re too kind.”

“No, I’m not just being kind, I mean it. I like you and I like working with you.”

“Well, thank you again. I appreciate that.” I then asked, “Has the programmer contacted you yet?”

“Ah, um, yeah and everything is resolved now, don’t worry about that. I just wanted you know that I think you are an asset to your company and that I appreciate all that you do for me. I’ll let you get back to work. I’m sure you have other clients you need to check on. Talk to you later.”

Click.

That’s when I conceded the election was more about race that I wanted to admit. And that racism is so embedded in American society it will take a lot more than an election to erase it. To put it bluntly, it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Yes, there are white people who are mad as hell because a black family has occupied the White House for the past four years. Anybody would be better than Obama, they think, so they’re voting for Romney despite not having a clear understanding of how he will turn the economy around. As his running mate, Paul Ryan, stated, the math would take too long.

Yes, there are black people who don’t give a damn about the current administration. An inordinate number of black people are so used to hard times that the economy is not and probably will never be a major concern for them because they’ve never been a part of it. All they care about is the president is black and they’re voting for four more years. Of whatever. As long as the black man stays in office.

And, yes, there are people who are concerned about America – its present and its future – and, if they vote, will do so based upon that concern and not by a candidate’s posturing. They, unfortunately, are the minority.

I, too, am a minority, not because I am a black woman but because I reject the labels Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal. I am tired of both parties automatically assuming they either do or don’t have my vote. I am tired of millionaire politicians souring our political process into sparring matches rather than honestly discussing plausible resolutions to our issues. I am tired of off-hand remarks garnering more attention than the topic being debated. I am tired of pundits rating the candidates’ debate performances rather than their platforms. I don’t think the outfits the candidates’ spouses wear deserve news coverage.

#Winning (at any and all costs) has become so valued in American society that we have come to expect and accept deception and lies as a normal part of the political process. No one wins when nearly half the population is struggling. No one wins when lines in food pantries are made up of people who work full time jobs but don’t make enough money to adequately feed their families. No one wins when companies lay off workers, cutting off paychecks and benefits to thousands, while executives still pocket hefty bonuses.

If you were unable or unwilling to take advantage of early voting, please vote this Tuesday, November 6. Don’t vote according to your emotions but according to your common sense. Don’t vote according to your political affiliation or race or sexual orientation, but according to the privilege of being an American citizen and wanting the best leadership for our country. Re-elect President Obama or show him the door. Whoever is elected won’t #win anything; but will inherit an awesome and tremendous responsibility and burden. The past twelve years have not been easy and the next four won’t be either. Don’t make it worse by being indifferent. This election really isn’t about race, although most have turned it into just that – a racial tug-of-war. This election, as all elections, is about America. Let’s stop being a house divided because a house divided cannot stand. If we continue this path of denial and apathy, outside forces will not bring down America. We will.


What Do You REALLY Want? Daily Inspiration, November 1, 2012

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

What is your greatest desire? What is the one thing for which you strive; that occupies your thoughts day and night? Do you want a better job? Do you need more money? Constantly thinking of satisfying sensual urges?

I have another question: Are you a Believer? No, not a Belieber (fan of a young pop star), but a Christian (one who accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior)? As Christians, our one true desire should be what David expressed in Psalm 27:4 – to be with the Lord all the days of our lives. We should seek a relationship with God above all things. His precepts should be at the forefront of our thoughts, they should guide us throughout the day and comfort us at night.

Striving for material possessions will produce days of disappointment and despair. Striving for a relationship with the Lord will strenthen you, give you hope and equip you with the confidence to face each day – the light, happy ones AND the dark, sad ones. The reality of living in this world is we do need need jobs and money in order sustain our physical needs. The confusion of the world is that we need more money and better jobs to live a prosperous life.

The reality of seeking of God first is realizing He will provide for you just as “the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)… So do not worry , saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his rightouesness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31).” The confusion of some Christians is believing that following Christ will lead to more money and prosperity based upon the world’s definition. Sadly, many shepherds lead flocks based upon these principles rather than biblical principles.

If you have food, shelter and health YOU ARE ALREADY PROSPEROUS. Desiring more is only an exercise in frustration that will ultimately lead to the disillusionment that God must not care, especially when you see others you deem as having far less “faith” than you living in a home or driving a car that you want. Those who desire mansions on Earth, fancy cars and money have their reward now and will spend their rest of their lives worrying, planning and working to keep those possessions. Those who seek the Lord receive thier reward later, but the reward lasts for eternity with no worry. What they have now is comfort, peace and the strength of the Lord to sustain them through all of life’s situations.

So, Christians, Believers, honestly ask yourselves, “What do I really want?” If being with the Lord is not at the top of your list, what is? Is it truly worth more than a relationship with God?

May the Lord be with you today and always.