Nov 05 2008

An election post

Posts have been thin on the ground around here lately. Mostly that is because I’m involved in a musical at a local community theater (look! I have a life again!) that goes up this weekend. We have been rehearsing pretty much non-stop over the last few weeks. In fact, thats where I was yesterday while all of the election drama went down.

I scurried off to vote during my planning period (there was no line–score!) and proudly wore my “I voted!” sticker for the rest of the school day. Rehearsal started at 7:00pm and I didn’t get home until about 10:30pm, when the action was pretty much over in all but name (North Carolina, however, still remains undecided as of this post… pretty wild). It sounds cheesy, but I felt what can only be described as a swell of hope and optimism at the results; the realization that this is where our country is now was extremely uplifting.

Unfortunately, all of those lovely feeings were somewhat marred by a few other events of yesterday and today. For one thing, I’m incredibly disappointed that it appears Prop 8 will pass. Perhaps it was naive, but I really expected better than that of California voters.

The other downer notes were of a more personal nature. One occurred yesterday, during rehearsal. I was sitting in the green room with a bunch of other (local) adults waiting for our scene. These are all people that I like and respect; for the most part educated people. Someone asked if anyone had heard any election news. There was kind of an uncomfortable silence where no one wanted to come out on one side or another, and then one woman said, “I haven’t heard anything. I don’t want to. I’m scared. I haven’t ever been scared of an election before.” Someone else chimed in with, “I don’t understand how so many people can vote for someone like that. He doesn’t believe in the constitution.” and then, in quick succession, “He carries a book around called “The Post-America World.” and “Can you imagine standing up at a ball game with your hand over your heart — if we’re even allowed to do that any more– and singing ‘We are the World?’ He wants to change the National Anthem, you know.” It was …heartbreaking and maddening at the same time. It was very quick and then we were onstage. No one even said Obama’s name.

Then, today in my 4th block, I came extremely close to having election day based racial violence break out. My school is a mix of poor African-Americans and poor Caucasians and one of my angry (black) children was holding a “come all ye” with several of my angry (white) children outside of my room when the bell rang to start class. Earlier that day he had been involved in an incident where several African-American students held the doors to the gym closed and refused to allow any white students in, saying, “Now that Obamas President you have to come after us n*****s!” (Why he was still in my class after that, I have no idea.) I managed to talk them down, but I came within a hairsbredth of being called a racist (somthing that hasn’t happened to me since my first year) and the atmosphere in the class was positively ugly for rest of the afternoon. It was … horrible.

I don’t know how to balance the two feelings, the hope and optimism that come with seeng how far we have come and the ugly disappointment and depression at seeing how far we still have to go.

One Response

  1. Old Librarian

    Well, you can’t be mad at people who are afraid. I am remembering what my mother and her friends commented about the first time FDR ran (I’m old but not that old) — they said the Republicans tried to scare them “They told us that if Roosevelt was elected, grass would grow in the streets”. It didn’t and he won in even more of a landslide after 4 years, when the fearful could see that he was all right.

    If your friends are feeling pained and confused, it may be because they are changing. I think it’s interesting that someone would comment – I haven’t ever been scared of an election before. Maybe this is the first real contest they have experienced. If you think about it, this is pretty drastic. I am in my late 50′s – when I was born, there were still thousands of people alive in the US who had been slaves. Then there was Jim Crow, which was practically like serfdom – The Voting Rights Act was in 1964 – that is just not that long ago.

    I’m just trying to pay attention to what is going on around me so I can remember this history.

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