To quote my fave character, Meredith, from my fave show, Grey's Anatomy, "It's so over."
I have to admit, I am relieved the election is finally over. I am tired of not only the presidential part but of all the local stuff as well. There was some woman running for judge - I can't even tell you what level - and she had a commercial with her elderly mother who sang Amazing Grace. First of all, what the heck does Amazing Grace have to do with the judicial system? That is a little scary in and of itself. Also, the lady just had this annoying voice. Just weird sounding. Kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard or metal grinding against medal. I was happy to see that she was running on the Democrat ticket and I could logically justify not voting for her (I am truly a Republican - I am sorry if that offends -well, I'm not really sorry about being a Republican - that's just who I am - okay - enough). Anyway -
Yesterday, David was excited about their mock election at school. But he asked me an unexpected question: "Mama, why did all the black people vote for Barack Obama and the white people voted for John McCain?"
What do you say to a seven year old who really can't understand the history nor the cultural meaning behind that question? But I could tell it really didn't make sense to him. But I must admit, it really did not make any sense to me, either. I was fortunate as a child to grow up in a household where race was never really discussed. And I would imagine that was rare in Montgomery, Alabama. I can remember my grandparents saying things and feeling so confused about it, wondering why they had a problem with black people. But it just wasn't an issue in our family. My parents never distinguished between the races, never talked about race. And they grew up in the height of the civil rights movement - experienced desegregation first hand in Montgomery public schools.
So, I answered David's question as best I could. I told him that I hoped whomever voted for Obama did so because they believed in the same things he believed in - that they believed in him. I stressed that you should never vote for a person based on the color of their skin and that if anyone voted for a candidate just because he was black, it would be the wrong reason. You just don't make decisions based on superficial things like color of skin. It is a tough thing to teach your kid in our loaded society. A society that I fear will never heal from its scars from those turbulent years of segregation and unfairness.
This is a topic I so rarely discuss because being a white woman, I obviously have never understood what it feels like to be black. But I know what it feels like to be treated differently for no real reason. I will never forget the black girl in my seventh grade PE class who said to me, "I'm gonna whoop your ass little white girl." I will never forget that feeling of someone not liking me for no good reason, and I have lived my life accordingly, striving every day to treat everyone I come in contact with the same unless they prove to me they are not worthy of my respect. And I must say, I wish we lived in a world where we didn't feel like we had anything to prove about race. That we could all just be people - not black or white or Latino. So many still claim inequality or unfairness in so many aspects of our society. But is that necessarily about race, or is that just the nature of life?
Yesterday, I realized that I really have no control over what goes into David's mind anymore. I mean, I knew that he was away from me all day. But it just hit me that he is beginning to truly observe others, their decisions, their processes. And that is frightening. I know he can turn out to be a good man in spite of this horrible world we live in full of problems ways beyond prejudice. But it just makes it that much harder on me to combat whatever might be seeping in during the day. It is beyond him understanding the cultural significance of our first black president. It is about morals and ethics and decision making and personal strength. And yesterday was the first big lesson his little spirit has ever begun to learn. I just hope I can answer his questions in the right manner and lead him to a life of kindness and wisdom and goodness.
So now, the best thing I can do for Barack Obama, though I think it is no secret I was not a supporter of his, is pray for him. He has won the race, but now the work begins. And he has a huge spot to fill in the history books as our first black president. I wish, though, it wasn't so much about the color of his skin and more about what his supporters believe he can do for the nation. I just pray he can lead with wisdom and strength in these difficult times and serve our country well.