Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hail to the Chief!

I hate to have to write this post, but there isn’t any choice, I guess. Apparently, there are some people in this country who are so sick, so racist, so anti-American and so stupid they think it’s okay to threaten people of color because the President of the United States is African-American.

I was veeeeery busy this week, so I tried my damnedest not to pay attention to the stories. But when one of your closest friends is the President of the local chapter of the NAACP and she insists on sending you blow-by-blow emails about whatever insanity is currently being perpetrated, it’s hard to stay out of the loop.

This week, since the election, some local teachers have been saying things to Black students like, “Nobody that looks like you could be a real President because you’re all too stupid.” Then, there was the case of a White child who was walking around his school the day after the election so upset by it that he was saying, “I’m gonna kill the first nigger I see.” (We don't have to wonder what HE hears at home, do we?)

Then children started being suspended from school for mentioning the name of President-elect Barack Obama at all. Needless to say, we’re talking African-American children here, which would seem to presume that no self-respecting White child would mention our new President.

The excuse for sending these “bad” children home is that there are rules intended to keep “politics” out of public classrooms, but the principals who are participating in this madness are pretending they don’t realize this means “political campaigning.” By the standard these sicko’s are using, the children will ostensibly not be allowed to talk about George Washington either or Abraham Lincoln or any government (U.S. or otherwise) or any legal system or any branch thereof or…whatEVER!

And to make the whole thing worse, it’s not just happening in Louisiana. I got an email from another blogger informing me that it's happening in Mississippi, too, though at least there's been some discipline meted out by administrators over there. And in Texas, the election of the President was greeted by epithets, but not by newspaper articles. Good grief! What are these people thinking?

The landslide election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is being celebrated all over the world. The United States has never elected a man with more capability and intelligence and we need his kind of leadership right now worse than we ever have. That a**holes are intimidating and punishing children for being excited about that is exactly the type of thing that makes people in other cultures think we as a nation deserve to go to our knees in front of God and everybody.

On Tuesday, I was prouder of my fellow United Statians than I have been in many a moon. Since I heard all this, I'm wondering if maybe some of us would rather go somewhere else. It would be okay with me if they did.


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Changeseeker said...

Thanks for the kind words, Guildford. I popped over to your site for a few minutes and was amazed. It's new media at it's best! I'm honored. Drop by any time. said...

Thank you for connecting some dots.

To project indifference as a response to fear is one of the most effective and powerful forms of hurt.

And certainly as adults, it is our duty to stand up for (along side with) the children. I hope that parents of children in those schools spend as much energy in creating opportunities for children to honor and celebrate the election as they do in protesting the ignorance of the schools. The children need us to do both.

And while vigilance in witnessing and condemning these acts is essential but somehow I believe insufficient alone. I like the stories that are comng out about Barack Obama, how he put the negatives in perspective and gave them the amount of energy they deserved --- very little. And the one time he spoke out on race during the villification of Reverend Wright, he was very direct and very effective.

Where he put his energy was in what would build unity, lift voices, support positivity. That's why I like him so much. In my thirty years of organizing experience, that's the most important lesson I have learned. It's also a lesson for scholars. It's important to deconstruct the evils but even more important to construct new and revolutionary meanings and practices that take concrete steps toward solving some of the most pressing problems.

I do think we are entering a time when the most important focus will be not to see through each other, but to see each other through.

Macon D said...

Thanks for compiling and recording these episodes. They need exposure, a bringing to the light, an airing out. I think a lot of submerged, resentful racism is going to emerge, but like a festering boil, lancing it so this stuff can come out should be healing. I hope that analogy/metaphor is accurate. I usually think that racism is instead just a "changing same," in that it always finds new, equally insidious ways of transforming itself, but I'm somewhat more hopeful than that these days.

Changeseeker said...

Welcome, Klimczaksusan. What an elegant and thoughtful response to my horrified post. I am grateful. I think my disappointment over these incidents has a lot to do with fear that the beautiful possibilities stretched out before us may somehow dissipate now like mist in the morning sun and I just couldn't bear it. But we have come this far by striding purposefully forward and we will continue to do so, if we choose.

I like your lanced boil metaphor, Macon. I'm still so mesmerized by the wisdom and savvy of Obama's campaign, I think I "forgot" that this kind of thing was inevitable. But just as he was elected anyway, we will all get past this, as well, as hurt is healed and justice prevails and decency is established. A daunting task lies ahead, but where there is breath, there is life and where there is life, there is hope.

Chocoholic said...

*sigh* This election and the reactions from some have convinced me that people just suck. I've heard racism from people I never heard it from before. I've lost respect for people because of it. I think we are going to see a lot more overt racism as a reaction to Obama being elected. At least it will prove to people racism isn't dead and we need to do something about it.

Changeseeker said...

I keep thinking the same thing, Chocoholic. It's a lot easier to make a case that racism is still alive and well when this type of thing is burst out everywhere. My personal hyper-irritant: "Obama isn't really Black; he's just half-Black." I ask 'em, "So which half is Black?"

Rethabile said...

"Good grief! What are these people thinking?"

Visibly, they're not.

Changeseeker said...

Good morning, Rethabile. I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, I've begun to wonder if they have the capacity to think. It appears not.

Last night, my new neighbor (who I had secretly suspected of ripping down the Obama signs from my porch a couple of weeks ago) expressed horror at having heard some local say they thought we needed to hang the American flag upside down...sigh.

On the other hand, I also spoke with my 82-year-old mother, who is not only fairly quintessentially "White," but a straight-ticket Republican voter all her life, and she told me without hesitation and with great pride that SHE voted for Barack Obama. For some inexplicable reason, that thought outweighs for me all the stoopid stuff. That's how the man was elected. People like my mother. And isn't that a commentary on progress (the nay-sayers notwithstanding)?

Ohnezu said...

Technology has played an interesting role in the outcome of this election as well. On one hand it allows you (and us) to discuss the ways in which racism has corrupted the outcome of the election but it has also allowed individuals to disseminate hate; as do so most hate groups online.

On election night I received a text message from a conservative republican friend which read "Bad news: Obama is up in the polls, the good news: that will change once the white people get off work". Later in the night as the results came in and it was announced that Barack Obama had won several of my friends changed their facebook statuses to hateful racist messages against the outcome. My reaction was to delete every single person from my "friends list" who had anything remotely hateful to say. It's one thing to be bitter about an election outcome (I know I was in 2000 & 2004) but it's another thing to spread racist hate and lies.

Changeseeker said...

Thanks for reminding me about the last two elections, Ohnezu. Many of us were more than a little disappointed and even angry in 2000 and 2004. After all, the elections were stolen in one way or another and a criminal wound up in Washington. Still, we didn't talk about hanging the flag upside down or killing anybody. Which is just one more example of the differences, I guess.