This 'n' That

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Do you plan to vote on 4 November 2008?

"Yes and no. I haven't decided yet."

Say you do go to the polls to cast your vote. Which candidate, Barack Obama or John McCain, would get your vote?

After a long period of silence and deep thought:


You've said John McCain. Is that correct?

"Yes. Senator John McCain."

Without making assumptions about African Americans typically voting Democratic, may I say that your answer does come as a bit of a surprise.

"Why does it? Because you're not African American, you don't understand."

No dispute there. Though pollsters, and they are not completely accurate, have said that Barack Obama has a definite lead over John McCain among potential African American voters.

"That's right. They are not accurate. Nobody's ever talked to me. You're the first. And I have to tell you that I'm not comfortable with speaking about my politics or religion in public. I believe they should always be kept private."

Understood. But might we continue, with the understanding that you may end this interview whenever you wish?

He nods his agreement.

Good. Now the compelling question here and now is why Senator McCain and not Senator Obama?

"Simple. Republicans always speak their minds. Even the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said as much."


"Am I allowed to speak bluntly here?"

Of course. You will not be censored.

"I've been called more niggers, and it's the last time I'll use that hateful word, more times by more left leaning, sympathetic Democrats than I have by conservative, right wing Republicans. But they never said it to my face. No. They always had a smile and a handshake for me whenever we were face to face. I'm talking about liberal Democrats now."

That's a rather inflammatory statement to make.

"Well, it's true. I come from a place where the Klan was king, a so-called 'red' state. Yet I believe I received as good an education in high school that the white students got. And it was an integrated, predominately white school."

Could you to be more specific? Where and what period of time are you speaking of?

"I won't say where, but I'm talking about the fifties and sixties. Yes, some did call me that name I won't repeat. And 'colored' folks, as we were called then, weren't allowed to eat in certain restaurants. So the racists and racism were always around. But at least I knew where I wasn't wanted"

To clarify what's been said here, are you saying that Democrats where you lived were less accommodating than Republicans?

"Let me be more direct. A Democrat would talk to me, tell me how sorry they were to see how the 'colored' folks were being treated. But could we live among them? Would I be invited to their homes for dinner or parties? Would they permit their daughters or sons to date outside their race? Now, they never said as much directly. They were too smart for that. And they're even smarter today. So the sixties did teach them something. But you see, I'm not talking about where I grew up. I'm talking about a 'blue' state."

Again, which state are you referring to?

"Where I live now. If you know where, I don't want you to print it. All right?"

Agreed. Though there may come a time when it will all come out.

"I'll deal with it then."

Please, continue.

"I mean when I came here I could not find a place to live. Because I was a student then, I was told by apartment managers that they didn't rent to students. We both know how ridiculous that sounds. A bank called police when they saw the size of a check I wanted to deposit. A cashier's check. The issuing bank's president had to verify the check before they would honor it. Where and when have you heard of that? Now I'm not saying that all these people were Democrats. I knew nothing about their politics. But the state as a whole has always been known as liberal, more progressive than most states. That's what I expected to experience. What I'm trying to say is that I always knew where I stood where I came from. So I always knew what I had to do to get around certain obstacles. But when you don't know..."

And it's the reason John McCain could get your vote.

"Nothing against Barack Obama now. He seems like a good man. I think. But he's just one. And just because he's an African American and a Democrat, doesn't mean things will get better for African Americans if he becomes president. His burden will be a mighty one.

This has been an extremely enlightening dialogue. May we continue at another time?

"I'll be around."

We continue.

"Here. Have you read this article that was in Sunday's (the 26th of October) New York Times? This white lady in Pennsylvania kind of sums it all up, about what I've been saying:

“Race just don’t matter to me any more,” she said. “But a lot of Democrats out there” — she shrugged — “we’ll find out on Election Day, won’t we?”

Okay. So you think, based on what this particular white voter in Pennsylvania has to say, that potential voters in the United States are essentially racist?

"Read the article and tell me what you think. She spoke her mind, you see. But she knows about a lot of other white voters who won't vote for Barack Obama because he's black. They'll express their true feelings behind the curtain. Some just won't go to the polls at all. They're the ones who wanted Hillary Clinton to be the candidate. If you look at the article, some of them plan to write her name in anyway."

You don't believe Senator Obama will become the 44th President of the United States, because of racism.

"What did that lady in Pennsylvania say? Race don't matter to her. But for a lot of Democrats she knows, it does matter. And there are more of them than there are of her. And I'm not so sure that she is being honest about what she really thinks about race. She's a 79 year old white woman. How can Mr. Obama win against that?"

Maybe we'll talk again after the election.