Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome to the real America

I love Keith Olbermann. No, really.
He unleashed another classic Special Comment yesterday on Gov. Palin's comments about slivers of Virginia being the "real America." While Keith went on and on about how outrageous the charge was, I and other black folks heard Palin and Minnesota's Michelle Bachmann's rage against Obama as the "real America" we've been struggling to defeat all our lives.
It is our real America, a place where whites would rather side against a new idea because of who it came from. A place where hard work and playing by the rules gets you in a Last-In-First-Out employment conga line. Blacks are happy to find non-whites who see the real America we see and speak out against it because we're called over-sensitive. The comedian Martin Short had a routine once where he asked the camera,"is it him or is it me?" The black folks I know ask that question almost everyday when they do the right thing and when they encounter discrimination but are told it's not discrimination. It's all in our heads, like Phil Gramm said about the economic crisis.
So we're happy to say "welcome to our world." If what they've said sounds outrageous to you, imagine what it's like to slam into everyday. And then told you don't feel the pain.
These people are not aberrations; there are thousands of people of all colors in power positions who agree with them. They cannot be happy with the poll numbers two weeks away from the election. Change is never something they can believe in...
At some point, though, I think there will come a time when I'll be able to thank Palin and Bachmann and Limbaugh and Buchanan and the rest who feel emboldened enough to pull their internal conversation to the outside where it can be exposed to the sunlight for cleansing.
When their ilk makes other white people feel emboldened enough to vote for an African American, I feel like we're creating a new real America. And let me say I'm not of the mind that everything will change after November 4 (except that my darling niece will be a year older), but this campaign has opened a lot of people's eyes to the possibility of what good comes when the leveled playing field intersects at the corner of Opportunity and Education for blacks in this country. For everybody too, I imagine.
To quote John McCain, it'll be a fresh of breath air...

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