Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day and An Apology

Today we get to VOTE. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to participate. It is an important privilege and right that we must use or we will lose.

It is an historic time in America. Who ever wins will bring a big change to the accessibility issue. For the first time we will have either a woman or a person of color in the highest levels of government. It is about time.

Several times in the course of this political race I have engaged in discussions with Sheria and other people on the issues of these cultural limits that exist in our country that have excluded people from full participation in our society. The latest has been in the comments on my post called Lessons. I pushed too far in that discussion and caused offense. Not my intention and I apologize. I certainly didn't mean that my experience with racism or prejudice of any kind equates with the experiences of a black person living through the difficult times of the last 50 years. It's not the same and I understand that. My hope in the conversation was to find a way to raise my children so they didn't end up with the learned prejudices I keep finding in my self and to talk about ways we can promote that kind of future in our world. So, again Sheria, I apologies for offending.

My mom used to tell a story about when I was a young boy of maybe 3 or 4. We lived in the city, and she was quite active in political issues of the time. One day a woman stopped by the house to drop some papers off. Mom was busy and I answered the door. The lady left the papers and went on her way. I went and told mom that a lady had left some things for her. When questioned about who the lady was the best I could come up with was that she was the one wearing the red dress. After looking through the papers mom realized that she was one of the black ladies she worked with on some political issues. At age 3 or 4 I didn't first see skin color. In fact, according to my mom, it didn't even register as a descriptor. Later in my youth, even though we had moved to a part of the state where there were very few people of color and no black people I can remember, I learned to hold them separate. They were different, and in many ways fearful. It has taken me a long time to overcome the bias I absorbed as a youth. My hope for my children and for the future is that the next time a black person, or a Native American, or an Asian, or a woman, or a gay person runs for the highest post in the land, the lead in every news story will not be that this black American or gay American, or woman is running, but that this person, representing these issues, is running. I know the road to my dream is long, maybe too long for my lifetime, but today, with my wife and kids we are going to the polling station to vote the issues, not the color or gender of the candidates.

P.S. We VOTED! The wait was only 12 min. at our polling station, and they had peanut butter cookies and coffee. The kids thought the whole process was fascinating, and posed nicely for the newspaper photographer. They will probably make the paper, all bleary eyed, with their hair poking out every direction, waiting for mom and dad to vote. Democracy! You have to love it.

6 comments:

nancybond said...

Excellent post! We had our own Federal election last month here in Canada and voter turnout was low. Whether that was simply apathy or lack of "inspiring candidates", I'm not sure, but the way I look at it is that if we don't vote, we have no right to complain. It's all those "just one votes" that shape our countries. I'll be watching the results of your election with great interest.

Sheria said...

Hi Alan,I left a comment on Lessons and I will repeat part of it here. No apology is needed and I was not offended, only somewhat frustrated that I feared that you were missing my point. I don't feel that frustration at all after reading your post today. In fact, I think that I may have missed some of your earlier points.

The time that you describe when Dr. King's dream becomes reality, when people are judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin is a time that I also hope to see. However, as this presidential campaign has demonstrated, although progress has been made, we're not there yet.

Perhaps it's a case of looking at the class as half full vs. half empty.

I am encouraged by Obama's run for president and the diversity of his supporters but I cannot ignore that this is the first time in the history of this country that there has been even a possibility of a person of color being elected president. When it becomes commonplace that a black person can successfully run for the highest office in the land; it will no longer make headlines.

I do agree that racism has to be taught. Many years ago, I worked as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten classroom. The teacher, who was white, had a son who was two years old and he and I had a mutual adoration society. He noticed my skin color in the way that you notice that one ballon is red and another is blue. When he sat in my lap, sometimes he would rub my cheek and then rub his. His mother and I had become friends and to help her out, I would volunteer that she could drop him off at my apartment when she had a lot of errands to run, so he and I spent a lot of time together.

I worked with her for two years and during that time she became pregnant. She told me a story that still makes me believe in the world that we both dream of. Her parents were visiting and asked her son what did he want, a little brother or a little sister. According to my friend, without missing a beat he replied, "I want a brown baby like Sheria."

Muum said...

Hey! fun to find your blog! thanks for visiting and commenting on mine. I was born and raised in western Ohio! small world.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Thanks to both Alan and Sheria for their comments.

As for today's election, if results come in as expected, then I will consider the glass at least half full. On the other hand, at least at my house tonight, watching the returns is more closely correlated with an empty glass.........

chaiselongue said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. From this side of the Atlantic it seems an important and historic day and we shall be following the results. Maybe it will take a long time for people to be seen as people rather than black, white, male, female, gay etc.... but tonight, I hope, the world will make some progress towards that ideal.

Rhonda said...

Alan,
I'm new to your blog, but have been enjoying it immensely. It is diverse and I get a little bit of everything as I visit. I've actually enjoyed the posts between you and Sheria..it has been very educational. It is difficult sometimes to have such a conversation and as she points out..you are both coming at it with different baggage..just so you know..these conversations are helping more than just the two of you. Great blog and I will continue to visit.

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