Michele Thomas

Jazz • Music • Connection

The Post-Election Diary of a Mad Barack’d Woman

Darren and I decided that for the first time in an election year, we would volunteer for our candidate's campaign. We have both felt inspired and obligated to get up and take action especially in this year of such historic possibilities.

Today we went to Indiana to canvass for the Obama campaign. Though we were really moved to work for the campaign, we both knew that the aspect of knocking on doors filled us with dread and anxiety. Speaking for myself—I've never been comfortable with the aspect of cold-calling, cold-selling, or even cold-surveying of people I don't know. Even more so when it comes to politics, which I really don't feel comfortable discussing with complete strangers…

But still we went. All nervous and sweaty, and inwardly screaming...to knock on doors for Barack.

Rest assured we didn't come away inspired, or uplifted. In fact, we backed down rather quickly after experiencing such a dismal atmosphere for two Democrats in a historically, red state. We were quite pathetic, actually; A democratic, inter-racial couple from the big fancy, elitist city coming to talk to the good people of LaPorte County, IN. (Darren has coined the term, "poor elitist" for those of us who think we're smarter than everyone else, but don't seem to make the money to prove it…) What the hell were thinking we were gonna do here?

This isn't a criticism of Indiana or their communities. It's not a criticism at all. It's more the realization of being a minority at this particular time in history. Even though my generation has been the freest and most blessed of the past generations of blacks in this country—there are still parts of America where white communities will never see beyond my skin color. I could not shake that familiar racial insecurity as I walked around the rustic neighborhoods of LaPorte County, Indiana—and as we were politely, but quickly turned away by a most of the residents; Suspecting we had been lied to right to our faces when we asked for them by their name, and were told repeatedly, "She/He doesn't live here."

I was not bothered by the fact we were turned away, but more over, the suspicion I was being lied to just to avoid having a conversation with me; and the feeling in my gut that it was because I was black and that I was supporting a black candidate.

This is a subtler, new kind of racism to me; A kind that is insidiously misinformed by "political correctness"; A kind that makes it difficult to call it out-right "Racism". You know, because it's like calling someone a Nazi. (i.e. There's got to be an extreme gesture of one's racial hatred.) This, at least was my observation when discussing the subject with my Caucasian husband. However, we did agree that being called or calling one a racist has become a bad word in this day and age. And I speculated that perhaps their needs to be a new word created for the newly evolved state of racism in this present day.

I'm not trying to be funny. We were seriously trying to coin a new term that's less polarizing but still tells the truth about the attitudes out there.

Like, how do you describe the voter who will never vote for a black man even if they agree with the issues he's running on? What's the word for the parents who are terrified for their child to be involved in an interracial relationship even though know this belief goes against the very core of their personal convictions? We need a word for the employer or co-worker who is thoroughly unwilling to recognize the skills of a different gendered or different race employee on equal ground with their white counterparts. We need a word for the educators that believe that "multi-cultural" history is "revisionist" history and therefore not as valid or legitimate as "true American history". We need a word for the double standard of thought in a society that once stereotyped black men as lazy and ignorant but now stereotypes a black Harvard graduate as "elitist" and "uppity". We need a word for politicians who use race baiting as a ploy to steer white voters away from making an informed choice, and to instead vote from their lowest most basal fears of their fellow man.

Again, I'm not trying to be sarcastic or coy. I really do believe if we don't find a way to identify these troublesome, subconscious, passive-aggressive, unhealthy, subversive, ethnocentric attitudes for what they truly are, we will remained chained to the worst parts of our history despite our desire to progress.