Archive for the ‘election’ Category

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.”


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I love it that I can write that heading.

5 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama,

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.


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….

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

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“Don’t mess with my TV”


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