I am a black woman and my family and me are ardent supporters of the President so this is not an easy diary to write.
I will say it again
Obama's avoidance of race hurting blacks & country
NOTE: I am speaking for myself in this diary and not black community. Only my opinion and observations.
I am a black woman but I am not African-American. My husband and daughter are African-American.
Until I married my husband I did not understand the African-American experience.
I wrote a diary yesterday entitled Obama is compromised by the Skin he is in
and was hr'ed and slammed by some who called me racist. I did not and will not respond to those charges because those who said that do not know me or my life and they are entitled to their opinion.
However, what I know as a black person who was not born or raised in this country, is that living here as a Permanent Resident married to an African-American and raising an African-American daughter has been an education and also an eye-opener.
Growing up abroad as a black in a mostly black country I always heard other blacks talk about African-Americans in "not nice ways". So my opinion about them was formed from this. Later when I migrated to this country, before my marriage, I met African-Americans who made fun of my accent and the fact that people from my background were suck-ups to white folk. Many of them also made fun of how many jobs people like us had and were mad at us for taking their jobs. Our country was colonized by whites so our experience with whites although rooted in the slave era differed from that of the African-American experience. The African-American painful experience with regards to racism is evident once you live in this country even as a black without their history. Anyone from a different race or different country who gets married to an African-American will know what I am talking about because race and racism becomes part and parcel of your life at some level or some time no matter what.
At first I was angry at African-Americans because I thought that they had it much better than they thought. Looking from the outside I thought they had lots to be grateful for because they seemed to be able to afford to travel to vacation in my country, stay at hotels etc. Little did I know I was just seeing a sliver of their experience. Today, after living here for more than 20 years, and now married to an African-American for 11 years I can stand here and say that the African-American experience in this country is a painful and horrendous one that never goes away. Living everyday with an educated African-American man who is honest and does his level best to take care of his family and do the right thing in his life I see his and their struggle firsthand.
The racism that African-Americans experience in this country is mostly not evident to others. Believe me African-Americans experience some type of racist or insensitive behavior towards them everyday. However, like most, they just want to live their lives and they get on with it. Many of them do not complain and only talk about it amongst themselves. Some of them prefer to ignore it and pretend it is not a part of their life experience. To me this is a coping mechanism even if I do not understand it. There is alot of love, faith, hope, joy amidst all the sorrows within this proud community.
My husband's mother is bi-racial but she sees herself as a black woman. She could pass for white but she refuses to. She does not have the dark skin of President Obama and could have chosen, like some bi-racial folk in her time, to live as white but she decided to live as a black woman. She is proud of her heritage and raised her kids to be proud of theirs. One of her sons is also bi-racial and the other 2 kids are President Obama's complexion. Growing up as kids in an all white neighborhood the darker boys were not treated like the darker boys. Their lighter skinned brother was invited to the white kids' houses and to hang out while his darker brothers were ignored. My husband's mother was not having it though and let him know that she was not going to let them diss her darker sons. My husband saw racism in his life from early on and still continues to experience it even though he is well-educated and is an expert in his field. He rarely gets offered positions in management and if he does they always find a way to get rid of him and his well-earned salary. The racism he experiences now is the institutionalized type but we still get spurts of blatant racism directed at us in the white community in which we live.
Now to the point of this diary regarding my feeling that Obama's avoidance of race is hurting this country.
I strongly believe and will continue to believe that President Obama is not doing us any favors by avoiding race. Race and racism is a part and parcel of every person's life experience in this country, whether we admit it or believe it or not.
It does not do us any good to have the first African-American looking like he is cowering from the the racism in the Conservative media. Even if this is not what he is doing it appears that he is and perceptions matter in politics. African-Americans understand President Obama's situation and do not expect him to single out their communities to give them special help. More than any other community they understand that he will be labeled as favoring them and so they are willing give him a chance to govern. However, what is fast becoming an issue in the African-American community, much like in the Progrssive community, is his obsessive need to be accepted by the Republicans and Conservatives. It appears that he bends over backwards to help them but runs from anything that might link him to the African-American community. African-Americans do not like what they are seeing regarding the dismissal of minorities in his Administration or the way how he does not stand up for his people. They did not like when he backed away from Prof Gates but they understood to a certain extend why. Again perception is everything.
FOX and their conservative allies are looking for ways to bait him and they have been doing it for the past 18 months it is time now for him to stand up and fight back. I think it is unwise for him to let this moment pass. I think that it does not help us as a country if he does not engage in a positive way with regards to race.
He did a good job with his speech on Race but now he has to engage those words and take action. Unless he does we will continue to be bombarded by the right. Bullies need to be confronted and stopped in their tracks not ignored or scurried away from. This only makes them stronger and they go on to hurt others in worse ways. Just look at what has happened to Ms. Sherrod. An innocent woman was hurt because of his and his administration's sensitivity to the word race and the charge of racism. Like Rachel Maddow said on her show the other night unless he deals with this"who is next?"
I know that some might say he is President and he has alot to do so why should he do this. Those who would say this know not what they are talking about. He only hurts his Presidency if he separates race and ignores it because it is part of who he is. I know he knows this at some level because he is much smarter than I am. He won the Presidency for crying out loud. This man can do this if no one else can. This is a moment to be grasped and not to be wasted. This is an actual opportunity that can move us forward regarding race in a positive way if only the President has the courage to reach out and hold on to it.
Sir, talk to Ms. Sherrod. Apologize to her directly. Hear her out. It need not be a beer summit. You have not seen or experienced what she has. My husband helped me to understand as an outsider who was not raised in the African-American experience. I know I am a lowly peasant who is not on your level but you were raised in Hawaii and not in an African-American community where the experience, even of your wife and her family, differs from yours. I know that you worked in Chicago with African-Americans and understand at some level their plight but what Shirley Sherrod is saying is not only raising the coversation out of just Race, she is allowing the conversation to be broadened to include the poor and that includes all poor here in the USA. This is where we need to if only we can navigate the third rail of race, which blocks us from dealing with the plight of poor people of all races in this country.
If we can navigate this moment with courage and not let the Beitbards of the right own the conversation and the direction of that conversation each time, we might be actually be able to come out on the other side.