Obama and the Death of Racism

About a month ago, maybe more, I toyed with the idea of not voting because the US incursions on Pakistani soil, unilateral and unwarranted, killing Pakistanis indiscriminately in the name of the war on terror, made me angry. And I remembered how, over a year ago, Obama had said that he would support unilateral action in Pakistan if they had actionable intelligence Osama bin Laden, may God curse his name, was there. My logic was that it doesn’t matter who gets elected: they’re both going to bomb my country.

I suggested this to my (very white) mom and she sent me a terse reply: “A single issue voter is no voter at all.” And I was ashamed. And I requested my absentee ballot.

In 2004, I was in Seattle and my father asked me on the phone, “Are you voting?” I said I was. He said, “Vote well. You’re voting for all of us.” Too bad my vote only counter for one.

So yesterday, as Virginia was being declared for Obama, I called up my father in Islamabad and said, “Obama mubarak!” He said, “Khair mubarak!” and we marvelled at how soon it was clear. He told me what was happening on Fox News, which I have failed to find on my Lahori TV, praise be, and he said – that suddenly the Fox anchors have changed their tune. They’re speaking well of him.

By saying that, well, it’s a great day for race relations and anyway, his mother is white and she raised him; his father wasn’t even in the picture, really; and his poor grandmother than just died… My father said, “It was like they were trying scrub his colour off.”

Great day for race relations, then.

For anyone who thinks that racism is dead, take note: the first thing even father, my die-hard Pakistani father said after the “mubarak” was “I hope they don’t kill him.”

If someone so removed feels that…

from Black Amazon:

Dear God

Bless him Jehovah

Allah

Mother Earth

Yahweh

OBEAH

ANCESTORS ALL

please don’t grant us another picture.

Please not another Myrlie

Not another Coretta

not another going back till that ship on that sea woman rocking now fatherless children

Not another beautiful ” strong black woman” punished by lonliness for loving a man trying to be good. Not another group of brothers in tears kicking themselves because they FELL FOR IT THIS TIME AGAIN. That they believed that this time work would pay off.

who was responding to BFP:

don’t think that I’ve truly understood until yesterday exactly how terribly the black community has been hurt. How devastated the black community was by the violence inflicted on them. How deep the ache of murder, lynching, rape, benign neglect, and threats etched themselves into the black community.

I mean, I had known–but not really, not until last night.

What made it clear to me was not the sobbing black people the cameras kept flashing to, or the black college kids that walked so purposefully to my local voting center, or even all the former civil rights leaders that *told* us all what it meant, point blank, to have a black man as a president.

It was the way the first thing so many black folks said immediately after the announcement was–sweet Jesus, protect that man. It was the way so many black folks said that not so secret prayer, the way one friend didn’t look away from the television as she reached out almost desperately for another friend’s hand.

It was the fear of hope realized. What could ‘they’ do to the small tender bubble of hope that had exploded into reality?

Stumble it!

2 comments ↓

#1 fathima on 11.06.08 at 6:15 pm

yeah, i read that BFP post too and that was when it first struck me that i’d taken for granted my not-white perspective, while failing to neglect the particularity of black history and trauma here. and then i felt ashamed for my previous unintentional smugness.

my dad said the same thing, too. and it’s wonderful to see my parents express, in their own restrained way, hope in american politics — more even than i have, really. this is unusual, being more politically cynical than my parents.

#2 nadine on 11.09.08 at 2:28 am

well I’m glad you voted – although I wouldn’t feel so guilty about the one issue thing – it is a pretty BIG issue! I voted in the NZ election this week (from Delhi). Stupid NZR’s wanted change too – so voted right wing all the way! and had the highest voter turnout ever – interesting what influence the US election has had as far away as NZ!

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