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I don’t get very many mass emails of the paranoid propaganda type forwarded to me, and when I do, I generally roll my eyes as I hit the delete key. Occasionally one of those emails lands in my box courtesy of someone that I either care about, think should know better, or both. In those cases, I’ll run the text of the story through Snopes or Urban Legends, and then forward evidence of the fake-ness of the story to the person who sent it to me. All that to say, I don’t give them a lot of thought, and when I have to think about it, I move on pretty quickly. For instance, a couple of weeks ago one of my students forwarded an email that has been going around for several years, having to do with the supposed rude and condescending response of a major network executive to a viewer who had complained about the “homosexual agenda” in a program. After running the email through snopes, I learned that the email was indeed genuine, but it was not from an executive, nor was it the official position of the network. I sent the information back to the student, the student issued a sheepish “sorry,” passed the info on to the rest of the people she forwarded it to and we were done.

Because I don’t traffic in nut-wingery, at least not that of the rightwing kind (yeah, I’ll cop to a little leftwing nut-wingery from time to time) I knew about the vicious anti-Obama emails flooding in-boxes across America only via hearsay and on the occasional blog. I knew they were out there, and I knew they were harmful, but I really didn’t think about them, you know? I was more concerned about the things that were being said on radio and television, what was happening at conventions and conferences and later on, at campaign rallies.

The other night I went to a meeting at my church. After the meeting, while most of us were out in the hallway bundling up to go home, one of the older (white) women in our congregation came over to talk to me. She is a sweet old woman, probably in her seventies. She recently read something I wrote that was published in real life, under my real name, about the campaign, the election and it’s aftermath.

The woman told me, kind of shamefacedly, that she had not voted. I was a little surprised. Then she went on to tell me that she was afraid. She was afraid of Obama, she said, because she had gotten so many emails offering “proof” that he was a Muslim and a terrorist. She was afraid of what was going to happen to the country if Obama won the election. She did keep assuring me that it wasn’t because he was black… it was the Muslim part that got her. And I want to believe her truth

Now, I knew this stuff was out there… I mean, it’s the whole reason the emails were flying around, along with all the other propoganda – the buttons, the waffle mix, the “satiric” magazine covers. But here I was face to face with a person I knew … telling me about the fear and confusion that had been placed in her. I don’t know if the people sending the emails to her were people she knew or not; in some ways it doesn’t matter. But it other ways it does, very much so. It means that someone was deliberately taking advantage of her because of her age, at the very least. And they got away with it – they frightened a woman who, because she is a citizen of this country has every right to vote – but they deliberately frightened her and effectively silenced her. She did not cast a vote for the person they wanted … she just didn’t vote at all. How many, many others did not vote for that reason? And, as my example above illustrates, it’s not just the elderly that get pulled into believing something just because they got it in an email from a friend.

And it makes me angry all over again – not at her, but at those who would not only disparage fellow human beings – an individual, on the one hand – fair game, I guess some would say – politics being what it is; but also entire groups of people – black men in particular, people of color in general, Muslims. That tactic was evident to anyone paying a marginal bit of attention – accuse him (or anyone) of being a Muslim; that will take away any measure of trust.

As I finish this post, I note that the Supreme Court has rejected the appeal over Obama’s citizenship… another wildfire internet rumor. I guess that’s something.

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Obama Election Spurs “Hundreds” Of Race Threats, Crimes

_Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: “Let’s shoot that (N-word) in the head.” Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

_At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: “Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.” Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. “Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count,” the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written “Let’s hope someone wins.”

_Racist graffiti was found in places including New York’s Long Island, where two dozen cars were spray-painted; Kilgore, Texas, where the local high school and skate park were defaced; and the Los Angeles area, where swastikas, racial slurs and “Go Back To Africa” were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.

_Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted “assassinate Obama,” a district official said.

_University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. “It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork,” Houston said.

_Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

_Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

_A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted ‘Obama.’

_In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying “now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house.”

via

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I love it that I can write that heading.

5 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama,
Chicago

Dear Senator Obama,

We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-Elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.

We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your Presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere.

We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.

Sincerely,

N R Mandela

h/t Monica at TransGriot

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The day after

I spent election day glad for the many distractions that would keep me occupied – classes to teach, students to meet with, even an evening conference call. But eventually… it was just me, the internet and the returns.

As I caught up on my blog and news feed reading, I kept up with the electoral vote counts. Eventually Obama climbed to 240, and seemed to stay there a bit.

At 11:06 I noted there were 284 electoral votes on the Obama side… could it be? I started scrambling around for news feeds…

Ten minutes later I become aware of McCain conceding…

This wasn’t the way I imagined it happening. On the heels of the 2000 and 2004 election, and at the end of an increasingly vicious campaign on the part of the McCain camp, I assumed wherever we stood when the polls closed, whatever the outcome, it would be contested. There would at the very least be an all night deliberation, as in 2000, or at the worst, something that dragged out for days, like in 2004.

I know now that I let myself get too wrapped up in the negative campaigning, the downright scary stuff that was happening in the McCain/Palin rallies. As I watched the Obamas being called terrorists, anti-American, socialists and worse, I imagined this was all of America, or at least all of white America, looking at me and my people. I mean, intellectually I knew this wasn’t everyone. I had been quite heartened, for weeks, at the preponderance of Obama signs around the city and in my neighborhood, and the numbers of co-workers, neighbors and friends who were working their butts off for the Obama campaign.

Even so, I didn’t want to set my sights to high. We have hoped before, right? And when you lower your expectations, then the disappointment isn’t quite as harsh – or at least that’s what we talk ourselves into believing.

And so I had hope… to a point. I don’t think I ever let it sink way down deep into my soul that this could happen in the America that I knew. And granted, America has been pretty good to me. But I am not an island. I am connected to a people, to a history, to a story that is larger than my own. I am the descendant of people brought to this land through no will of their own, and who owned nothing, not even themselves. I am the daughter of parents whose childhoods, teenage years and young adulthoods were prescribed by the brutal limitations of legalized segregation. I am the mother of sons to whom I taught the lessons every black parent despises – if you are stopped by the police… keep your hands on the wheel. Say yes sir and no sir. Say I am reaching for my wallet – it is in my back pocket sir. Reach for said wallet slowly. I am the mother of a daughter who does not conform, as I do not, to the standards of American womanhood. It is a hard, hard thing to realize that you, and those who look like you, belong to a class of people that are feared, despised, disregarded.

And so it is a hard, hard thing to hope. Oh, I could say the words. And practically everyone I knew was saying the words along with me… and doing the work, showing up. Hoping, praying… breathing in the possibility of change. I don’t know if I really believe we can change the world. But I do know that I can’t not try.

So last night, as the news became real… I did what so many others of you have reported. I cried. I laughed. I cried some more – tears of joy, tears of relief. I went into their rooms and shook my children awake. I wanted to be the first to tell them. “He won. Obama won. We have a new president.” One who looks like you.

It is a hard, hard thing to hope. But it is a harder, and far worse thing, I think, to have despair as the only bread to feed your children.

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There is still work to be done on behalf of equality and fairness, and rights for everyone. The No on Proposition 8 campaign (California) looks more and more as though it has been defeated. There is work to be done in our communities, all of them… reaching across and around boundaries – both perceived and real.

Pam Spaulding writes:

I feel that a giant snowball of blame game is about to roll over and crush me as we wait for the final count in California on Prop 8. Who voted for Yes on 8 is clear now, as exit polls show 70% of blacks, (with black women at 74%) voted for the amendment. That’s about 20 points higher than any other racial group. But the blame needs to be put into perspective – blacks represent only 6.2% of of California’s population. There’s a lot to discuss in the post-mortem regardless of the outcome.
For those of us who are black and gay, a group too often marginalized within a marginalized community, I see this as a clear signal to the LGBT advocacy community. There hasn’t been enough outreach to those groups who voted against us. We haven’t reached them; there hasn’t been enough effort expended.

Read more here.

There is more to be said and much, much more to be done. For now, I will say this – those of us who are religious and are part of faith communities – our work begins there.

ETA – Please read this amazing post over at Prof BW’s. Excerpt:

As we fight each other, our rights become that much more vulnerable to denial by those in power as our energy is wasted in conflicts that are simply not true. Worse our ability to work together, which is the only way to win, is forfeited in a series of recriminations that not only cement division but erase those places where we overlap and the people who sit firmly in the intersections. Look at how decisively this post shifted from one in which I had hoped to discuss the losses as part of a political milieu supported by all parties this election and then focus on what we can do to work against that in the future, into one where I must once again call out racism from the left and wonder at whether we can ever really work toward equality for everyone in such an environment.

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Holding my breath….

[clearspring_widget title=”Decision ’08 Presidential Results” wid=”48f7b94a8845f8a3″ pid=”490fca66959e901c” width=”300″ height=”545″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

ETA – In the meantime, how about some Election Day hopeful music?

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“Don’t mess with my TV”

Sweet.

[clearspring_widget title=”Tonight Show with Jay Leno – Obama daughter’s beef with Barack’s airtime!” wid=”4727a250e66f9723″ pid=”490872b74dd3d229″ width=”384″ height=”283″ domain=”widgets.nbc.com”]

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Today I early voted

Or is that “I voted early?” I kinda like the sound of “early voted.”
The following are the notes I typed into my phone as I stood in line this afternoon to cast my vote.

4:10 pm. I’m in line to early vote. There are 30 people in front of me at the county administration building. There are two poll workers. There are two folding tables set up, each with two voting booths set up. Rarely are all four occupied at the same time.

I left work early for an appointment that turned out to be cancelled; since I was driving right by, I decided to vote today instead of early tomorrow morning as I originally planned. The little city I live in (52,000) is heavily, staunchly conservative and Republican my little liberal self is generally out of place. At my usual polling place, I rarely see another black face – we are only 14% of the population here. But I’d say at least a third of the people here in line to vote are African American. The line snakes forward and doubles around like a we are waiting for a ride at an amusement park.

Right now there is a delay while they make up more envelopes. (5 minutes later) …the line is moving again. Most people seem to be here alone, on the way home from work, like me. I hear a man a few feet ahead of me saying this is his one day off during the week. Some folks greet people they know. There’s a bit of small talk, some grumbling about how long this is taking but most people seem to be okay with it.

I’m eavesdropping as hard as I can, but no one seems to be talking about the election. I wonder what that conversation would be like… if we bunch of strangers dared to talk about the election. Lots of folks are reading, a couple listening to ipods. Some texting. I wonder if anyone else is blogging.
Just a few minutes ago a young woman came thru with a basket of food – bagels, crackers, cheese, bottles of water. I joke with the woman ahead of me that someone could make a killing the next few days, especially next Tuesday. When we find out the treats are free, there is a lot more interest. I get some cheese. I already have water.

4:40. Now there are 22 people ahead of me.

5:00. I am rounding the bend. The line behind me now stretches all the way back to the entrance.

5:20. About 10 people ahead of me. For some reason, things have stalled. There are no people in the voting booths.

5:30. I’m now number 8.

5:55 I’m next.

Here is the procedure. You go to the desk where the workers are, and hand over your ID. One of the workers puts the name and address (I suppose – I couldn’t see what she was typing) into the computer. A few seconds later, a label maker prints out a bar code. The bar code is affixed to a blue envelope. You are asked to sign a paper that says you are who you are, etc I really didn’t look at it, but I signed it. Then you are given a ballot, and told to go over, do your voting at the booth, fold the ballot like so, place it in the blue envelope and seal. Then you go back over to the table, pick up a yellow envelope with your name on it and the paper you signed earlier inside of it. The blue envelope goes inside that, you seal it, and then place it in the ballot box.

So… I did all of that. I voted. And you know who I voted for.

6:02. Done.

They don’t give you an “I Voted Today” sticker for early voting. But that’s okay. Bring on November 4th.

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A Plea to Young, White, Male Obama Supporters

Petty violence, symbolic or otherwise, has never been a useful tool of critique and simply illustrates the ignorance of those who resort to it. If you cannot think your way through why, then consider Obama’s call for a “different kind of politics” where fear and loathing are met with hope and reason.

If you are considering doing something childish in the next 8 days, stop it. Stop it now.

Amen.

ETA: and read this, too:

Counter Productive And Just Damn Wrong

So listen up and I will speak very clearly. There is a big difference between standing up for yourself as compared to sneaking out under the cover of darkness to deface someone’s property and by so doing strip away their ability to feel secure in their own homes. It’s wrong when it’s done to us, and it is just as wrong when we do it to others. So stop it!

If you want to support this struggle for marriage equality, fine. There is a lot of work that needs to be done between now and next Tuesday. But if you just want to run around and play urban junior terrorist – No. that doesn’t help to stop Prop 8 any more than Ashley Todd’s self-mutilation helped the McCain campaign. We are better than that.

Yes, we are better than that. All of us – let’s not resort to what we hate. We are better than that.

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No? Didn’t think so – I didn’t either until this afternoon, although the incident happened last weekend.

h/t Pam’s House Blend

Ashley Todd, as you may recall, faked being attacked by a 6′ 4″ black man who carved a (backwards) B in her face.

Nancy Takehara was actually attacked, the attacker confirming what he did.

She is an Obama Volunteer going door-to-door.

She was assualted. Her attacker has confessed.

Goetsch grabbed her by the hair and beat her on her head.

This REALLY happened.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-wi-campaignattack,0,815315.story

If she had been a white girl, you might have heard about it.

From the Chicago Tribune archives, October 20:

Goetsch tells The Journal Times in Racine that he did pull the woman’s hair and regrets his actions.

Police say their report on the incident will be forwarded to the Racine County District Attorney’s office when it’s complete.

Video including Takehara linked here.

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