This has to be dispiriting, to say the least, but I have to add, that I am not surprised at what I read. Kevin Merida of the Washington Post wrote an article detailing the high incidence of racism that the Obama campaign workers have encountered. Are we still living in two Americas? Well, it seems that way from the article, which I will paraphrase. For starters, in the factory town of Muncie, Ind., in the days before the state’s primary, Merida said that Danielle Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Barack Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into “a horrible response,” as Ross put it — anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.”The first person I encountered was like, ‘I’ll never vote for a black person,'” recalled Ross, a onetime university student who is white and just turned 20. “People just weren’t receptive.”For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed and unreported.
Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.
Isn’t this a stark contrast to what we see on the television? We see large, adoring crowds clamoring to shake Obama’s hands or to take a picture. The sad reality is that he is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight. Merida cites another campaign worker: Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”
Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across “a lot of racism” when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: “White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people.”Obama campaign officials say such incidents are isolated, that the experience of most volunteers and staffers has been overwhelmingly positive.
On Election Day in Kokomo, a group of black high school students were holding up Obama signs along U.S. 31, a major thoroughfare. As drivers cruised by, a number of them rolled down their windows and yelled out a common racial slur for African Americans, according to Obama campaign staffers. This is a real shame that there are so many hateful people out there. For what it is worth, there are many people who voted for Obama and he has, undoubtedly, made a tremendous contribution to the electoral process. He has managed to infuse a new life into the process and has piqued the interest of many people who would otherwise not even bother to vote in the primary process. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for one America is still a very real possibility if people would just realize that we want the same things out of life and we want better for our families. It is not just about the black guy or the white woman. It is about uniting America and not constantly dividing America. Just my thoughts, you be the judge…..