The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Presidential Race

Back in the good old days of late August, the Democratic Party held a convention to nominate the first African-American from a major party for president of the United States.

That was before Sarah Palin sucked all the oxygen out of Obama’s candidacy, and before Katie Couric, with an assist from Wall Street, sucked all the air out of Sarah Palin.

During the nanosecond when the public’s attention focused on the convention, Americans contemplated the meaning of this historic event.

After Michelle Obama dazzled the audience by proving that a black woman could love her kids, husband, and country as much as those with paler pigmentation, NPR hosted a call-in show for people to share their reactions to the convention.

The first caller was a middle-aged white man who said it had been an awakening for him. To his great shame, he discovered his hitherto unexamined belief that no black man could be qualified to hold the highest office in the country. He was bowled over by the contradictory evidence he saw on stage, and by what he had the courage to see within himself.

I, too, dismissed Barack Obama at the beginning of his long slog to the White House. I liked Obama—I liked all the Democratic candidates, actually—but considered him unelectable.

Electability was my major criterion, and I shared my husband’s view about Obama’s prospects. He was fond of saying, “A black man whose last name rhymes with Osama bin Laden and whose middle name is Hussein? Come on! It will never happen!”

Then, as the impossible happened in the Iowa caucuses, I began to realize that allowing myself to be held hostage to racism was itself racist.

Recently the McCain/Palin campaign proudly announced it was taking off the gloves. Obama, they suggest, while perhaps not the Antichrist, is certainly anti-American and certainly not one of us.

In energizing its base, the Republican ticket has energized what is basest in human nature. Phrases like, “He’s a Muslim,” “I just don’t feel I know him,” “Who is the real Obama?” “He pals around with terrorists,” stand in as more socially acceptable codes for outright racist remarks.

Some people don’t bother with code. My neighbor tells me his business associates in Arkansas freely brag that there’s no way they would support a n*****. Another friend hung up on his mother when she finally confessed that she could never bring herself to vote for a black man.

The gloves are off, but so is the mask. Obama’s candidacy, spurred on by his courageous springtime speech in Philadelphia, has sparked a serious public conversation on race. It has forced people to look into themselves, as the NPR listener and I did in coming around to support Obama.

Of course, opposition to Obama is not fueled only by outright bigotry or the softer prejudice of discomfort with someone who is less familiar. It is as offensive to see racism behind everything as it is to practice it, or to deny its existence. But clearly this amazing presidential race has brought race, racism and the desire to move beyond it out of the closet.

The collapse of Wall Street and Main Street has helped lance the boil. Recently, another NPR interviewee allowed as how he hated to vote for someone he referred to as a “nigrah,” but because of the economy, he was supporting Obama.

Swing-state canvassers report weird encounters as they knock on normally deep-red doors in rural America:

“I have to ask my husband,” one woman tells an Obama volunteer who asks which presidential candidate she supports.

“Who are we voting for?” she calls into the back room.

“We’re voting for the n*****,” comes his reply.

“We’re voting for the n*****,”  his wife repeats to the stunned volunteer.

During the recent Jewish holidays, a friend sent me a Photoshopped picture of an Atlanta synagogue’s billboard for Rosh Hashanah. It read:

Happy New Year!

Please Vote for the Schvartzah

The photo is fake, but the sentiment reflects the reality of these strange times. Progress happens reluctantly, but it does happen.


I like many things about Obama. I like how comfortable he is in his own skin. I like how well he integrates not only his black and white ancestry, but also every seemingly disparate fragment into something whole. I like his wife. I like that his authenticity comes from grappling so honestly with being fatherless and an outsider. I like his policies, his character, his intelligence, his reflective nature and nuanced grasp of complex issues, his eloquence, his decency, his eyes-wide-open optimism, his seriousness of purpose. I like his extraordinary empathy with both insiders and outsiders. I like that when a photographer catches him riding bikes with his children along the Chicago waterfront, he looks like a dork in his bike helmet.

But most of all, I like that Barack Obama helps us leave behind what is base, and rise to the better angels of our nature.

By Lorrie Goldin

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At a casual get together a neighbor stands up and voices how he'd never vote for a black man and other neighbors excuse his behavior by offering that "he was drunk." I call it what it is: hate. And he should be ashamed.
bull's eye. I spoke with my 98 year old grandmother last summer in her nursing home in Texas about this election. She is mostly lucid and this topic had her in a good moment. She dismissed Obama's intelligence and character with a wave of her hand and said, "it makes no difference. Do you think this country is ready to elect a colored boy to be president?" I said, "yes, I feel we are." She laughed and said, "Well, maybe in California. Not in Texas." I've seen the fear of the unfamiliar in my Texas relatives and I hope Granny's wrong.
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