Friday, October 24, 2008

Hot Topics: Race, Voting and Stereotypes

This is another post from marilyn|Jean. marilyn|Jean: occasional blogger. constant activist. provocative party planner.


There are no such things as voting blocs based on race and gender. People are too complex and diverse to be lumped together in political bundles. We’ve learned this lesson in this election, for sure. But for some reason (read: media & the patriarchy) people hold this falsity to be true, placing some hefty expectations and assumptions on people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. There are groups of people that have dominated the political scene since this god awful race began and as November 4 looms nearer, they are really starting to piss me off. Below I break these groups down and explain why they are so gosh darn annoying.

Joe Sixpack: The poor white guy

I’m not exactly sure when the tides turned. All of a sudden in 2008 white men, particularly poor ones made up their own voting bloc. A bloc that warranted media attention, analysis and pandering. I find it disconcerting that the first female candidate and Black candidate for POTUS had to apologize to this “bloc” for being powerful, educated, wealthy…you know all the things rich, white men have always been.

When asked about the race factor in this year’s election, Rep. Murtha out of Pennsylvania found himself in some hot water for telling it like it is when he said: "no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” Murtha was simply trying to explain the ugly truth that some people – no matter how qualified he is and how shitty the last eight years has been – will not ever ever EVER vote for Barack Obama. Ever. Like never. The people Murtha was referring to were his own Jesus/working/gun-loving residents, Democrats who have supported him election after election. For them, this isn’t about the issues, this is about their own prejudices that they refuse to let go.

No one has yet been able to explain to me how white and Black working class people are so different. When you look at it from a sociological perspective we value the same things, set the same goals, work in the same places and ultimately suffer under the same policies enforced by the Bush Regime. Yet, Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber have become the poster kids for the disenfranchised. Hey guys: when are you going to wake up and realize that poor has no color these days? We’re all shopping at Wal-Mart, praying that the bills go away, waiting in the unemployment lines and hoping our kids get a better deal out of life than we did.

Instead of talking about the issues and how he’s going to solve them, Barack has had to constantly toe a line of not being “too black”. He has to assure people that he’s just like them – justifying his American citizenship. That’s bullshit. No other candidate on the trail has to do that. They can be taken at face value and start a position of at least an iota of respect without being attacked for the parents they couldn’t choose and the accomplishments they have achieved.

If you love America like you say you do, then get over your prejudices and get to the polls.

Lily Liberal: Condescending White Liberals

I’m not sure which is worse: racist white people, or white people who don’t think they’re racist. This election has shown us how ignorant liberal white people can be. If they weren’t busy slinging sexist mud at Hillary Clinton, they were promoting subtle racist rhetoric about Barack Obama. One can almost expect that sort of malarkey in such an historical election. What I didn’t expect was the self-satisfaction some white people possessed when they proclaimed their allegiance to Barack Obama. I have had white people go as far as to say that his presidency would end the awful nightmare that is racial history in America. That his candidacy in-and-of itself diminishes the lasting residue of racial oppression.

Really? If anything, Barack Obama and this entire election has shown us how far we have not come. (Yes, I am one of those people who looks at the glass as half empty.) Have we progressed from public lynchings? Yes. Have we progressed past segregated lunch counters? Sure. Is the word “nigger” regarded as taboo and not a casual way to describe someone of African-American descent? Yes. BUT, is there still gerrymandering, job discrimination, inadequate school systems, segregated communities, predatory lending in Black communities, an imbalanced justice system and stereotypical portrayals of Black people in the media? You betcha! And the election of a Black president will not eradicate these realities. Yet, there are some optimistic white people who think that their vote for Barack is like some excuse note for all the privilege they have and will continue to enjoy when he’s in office.

Call me stuck in history, but nothing is going to erase the remnants of racism in America. Nothing. We still have people out there who can’t admit we have a problem. You can’t solve a problem if some people don’t even want to know that it exists. Instead of placing yet another Obama bumper sticker on your Prius, why don’t you take a trip into places like southern Ohio and western Pennsylvania and talk to your fellow whites and explain to them why you’re white, yet voting for Obama.

Make sure you leave your croissants and lattes in the car.

Juan Republican: The Latino Vote

In case you didn’t know, Latinos are some of the most racist people I know. I know this because I am half Latino and I grew up being exposed to the nasty prejudices between Black Americans and Latinos. I won’t be a bigot and point out specific nationalities, so I will be a jerk and speak in sweeping generalizations. There are plenty of stories like this one that go largely ignored in the mainstream media when talking about the Latino Vote and Barack Obama.

A recent story on NPR exploring this concept quoted one Latino as saying that he doesn’t like Blacks, but he is voting for Obama anyway. Then there was another story where one guy thinly veiled their prejudices by explaining how Barack Obama doesn’t “get” Latinos, that he doesn’t “get quinceƱeras, piƱatas, our values…tacos.” Seriously. Someone said that. Because you know that’s what being Latino is all about. Yet, to this guy John McCain gets it. Yeah…John McCain is the pinnacle of Latino advocacy. He’s done a terrific job with immigration. Like immigration is the only concern that Latinos in America have. Like all Latinos came here from Mexico. Way to monopolize the Latino voice. This is the same John McCain who belongs to a party that refers to many hardworking Latinos as “illegals” no matter if they were born in Poughkeepsie. The same party that has members who insist that English being constitutionally protected as the nation’s first language.

It’s fucking disgusting that some Latinos would forsake unity among minorities and soft shoe for a candidate who could give a rat’s ass less about them because they are too racist to vote for a Black man. A man whose father wasn’t even born here! Talk about being the son of an immigrant. How does Barack’s story of being raised by grandparents and his single mom less reflective of Latinos than the privileged upbringing of John McCain? And again: what about the issues? Last time I checked, a majority of Latinos were not sitting pretty in America. Do you truly think that John McCain is the answer, or are you just as close-minded and conservative as he is?

Oye: "La revolucion de la gente empieza con la liberacion de la mente."

Invisible as always: Asians and the election

I typed in “Asian vote” in my search engine and this is what I got. What gives? Maybe I have been under a rock, but this entire election has ignored Asian voters. Maybe they want to be ignored. I don’t get the invisibility and I am perturbed by this oversight. I can’t speak for Asian-Americans, but if I were them, I’d be pissed.

Seriously: where the hell is the Asian “bloc” and why doesn’t anyone care about them? There are some 11.9 million Asians in this country. Maybe the live in states where the vote is already locked up? I don’t want to assume that all Asians consider race to be their main and sole identity. Are they just lumped in with white people because they’re not Black or Latino? I don’t get it. Are they not elite, or working class? Women concerned about choice? People who have sons and daughters serving in Iraq? People who have a stake in the economic crisis?

I guess this indicative of racial realities and history in the U.S. Asian-Americans are often marginalized even in conversations on race. They are pushed into footnotes and cursory paragraphs (like here). Asian-Americans represent such a diverse range of incomes, values, identities and geographies that I can’t dare assume which party possesses the most members. I’m honestly at a loss on this group, so if you’re Asian and reading this, make some noise!

Al, Jackson and Co: Blacks who do more harm than good

There are just some Black people who do Barack more harm than good by publicly voicing their support for him. Rappers like Ludacris: He wrote a song that included the lyrics attacking Hillary Clinton and degrading her in order to show the world how much he support Barack Obama. How many Black people has the Obama Campaign had to say thanks, but no thanks to because their “endorsements” were collateral to Obama’s professional, political image? Too many (that includes you, Rev. Wright).

I find it disappointing that they are Black people out there voting for Obama, but can’t tell me why besides the fact that they think “our time has come”. Our time? Our time for what? My brother, you can’t spit knowledge on how dope his health care plan is, but like the Lily White Voter, you think a Black president is all we need to stop the hate. Just like women who voted for Hillary simply because she has a vagina, you are despicable for voting for someone just because they share the same skin color as you.

And while we’re talking about those Blacks, let’s talk about Black Republicans. Man, did we think Black folks would jump ship when Obama came on the scene. Is there a law that says that if you’re Black, you have to be Democrat? No. But do Black Republicans continue to amaze me? Yes. Now, I know that Black Americans aren’t a bloc. We don’t have the same money, live in the same places, possess the same degrees. I get it: there are bonafide reasons why some Blacks are Republicans. Nevertheless, Colin Powell befuddles me. So does, Condi. I can’t help but wonder why Black people of any ilk choose to be part of a political party who has done everything in its power to disenfranchise other Blacks. (I’m talking to you, Ken Blackwell and Clarence Thomas.)

If anything, this election has proven that Black Unity, no longer exists, if it ever even did.

This isn’t a race to the bottom…

This should be a march towards unity. During critical times like these, people need to let go of their misperceptions and fears. We need to move towards understanding what plagues us all and work together to find solutions. This is what Barack Obama is all about, yet the only man to talk about true unity is the same one who suffers from ugly divisiveness.

This election is historical and important. Not just because of what is at stake, but because people have really shown their true colors (no pun intended). It shows us that we’ve made significant strides towards catching up with the rest of the world by electing people based on merit, not identity, yet it also reveals just how ass backwards people in American can really be. So keep your heads in the sand, or pat yourself on the back for being so “progressive’ now because we won’t know who is who when we’re all shit on in the end.



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