One of the strains of being black in a white society is being lumped in with people you have nothing in common with.
You might be a vegan, but youâ€™re supposed to like ribs, not arugula. You might be Catholic, but all the news pundits are driveling on about the â€˜black prophetic traditionâ€™. Even if you canâ€™t get a date, you are presumed to be a sexual libertine. You have to listen to white people like Don Imus affect a â€˜blackâ€™ accent. Then when you, a black person, try to speak, you canâ€™t get heard because youâ€™re not saying what youâ€™re expected to say.
Well, gentle reader, I never thought Iâ€™d feel your pain. And Iâ€™m not presuming to say I feel it now, but I think Iâ€™m being stereotyped and I donâ€™t like it.
Hillary Clinton, who once was a credit to her race, is trying to lump me in with people who vote based on color, or the sound of someoneâ€™s name, or a class resentment that favors one millionaire over another because they drink the right beer.
I miss the early days of the campaign, when both candidates took the high road. I remember listening to interviews on NPR with black women who said they were leaning to Hillary. They liked her record, they trusted her experience, they were thrilled that a women had a shot at the Presidency. Other women, old guard white feminists, were leaning to Obama. They liked his message of change, his roots in community organizing, his success at bringing people together.
In the early days we had two good candidates, and a real choice. What a contrast to the Republican clown car. But right from the start, Sen. Clinton was playing â€˜gotchaâ€™ and jumping on sound bites. When â€˜Obambiâ€™ started getting too far ahead, he became â€˜arrogantâ€™. Soon he was looking down on â€˜people like usâ€™. Clintonâ€™s play on class resentment quickly slid to a naked appeal to white majority power. There are more of us, she seems to be saying, and we will vote our race prejudice in November in numbers large enough to hand the Republicans four more years. Unless you vote for me. Iâ€™m white.
All of us whites will fall in line. Except the arugula eaters, and Chardonnay sippers. Except the ones who went to college, and the blue-staters, and the atheists and the queers and the urbanites who see too many in their cities taken down by handguns. And the ones who watch the news. The ones who are sick of the past eight years of lies and have not heard enough honest opposition to this war from the senator who claims the most experience. And, oh yeah, the ones who read the blogs. You think that adds up?
Even in the case of the good people of West Virginia– a great president once said that you canâ€™t fool all of the people all of the time. Just because a voter didnâ€™t go to college doesnâ€™t mean sheâ€™s stupid. I think itâ€™s clear to everyone that all our candidates are part of an elite. Regular people donâ€™t go jetting all over the country trying to get elected President.
In fact, we had better elect someone elite. Weâ€™ve had two terms of a dumb President, and heâ€™s handed our national wealth to his rich friends and sent our troops to die in two foreign wars without making us one bit safer than we were in 2001.
Certainly there are white racists, and not just in Appalachia. But they are outnumbered by the white voters who are looking for good leadership, who are looking for answers to our problems with employment, health care, and a war that drains our blood and treasure. White people donâ€™t need a nudge and a wink, and a pat on the back. We donâ€™t need condescension. We, like everyone else in this country, need to move into the 21st century without wearing the sins of the past like a ball and chain.
So knock it off, Hillary. I am more working-class than you. I like beer and arugula. I empty bedpans if that is what the job requires, and I blog in my spare time. I donâ€™t need to be talked down to. If an appeal to prejudice works for you, itâ€™s to the detriment of our country. So stop it. Youâ€™re dragging down the race.