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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Re: 4.01am tears

My friend Toby Grace writes from New Jersey about what last night meant for him:
Trenton is to a large extent, a black city. Over half the population is black and Latino. Last night, the people were honking horns and rejoicing in the streets. Church bells rang.

What makes me especially happy though, is that this rejoicing was not split along racial lines. Obama could not have been elected without a substantial part of the white vote and he got it.

There is the real change - the real cause for rejoicing - that those who were blind can now see and who were deaf can now hear. That we can look at our neighbors of other races and see them as the same as us and hear them when they cry out and know that some among them are better than we are and that we can say "let's take the best and have them lead."

It has taken a long time to get to this point and it has been a terribly difficult and even a bloody road. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Medgar Evers, and many others, you did not die in vain.

It is a road that gay people know very, very we ll. Our road has run parallel and even been one and the same. We are a long way from the end of our road still, but at least we can see that it is in fact a road that can be traveled and it leads to a mountaintop where the sunshine and the starlight are truly beautiful.

On Christopher Street, the tears shed by those of us, black, white and Latino, who fought there for liberty so long ago still sparkle in that starlight if we look to see them and this evening, they will shine more brightly.


  1. While I'm pleased Obama won, I don't see how people can say "this rejoicing was not split along racial lines" when only 3% of the black vote went to McCain. 3%?

    Surely not all of the black vote voted for Obama purely because of his policies? I can't believe any section of people would be so overwhelmingly democrat on policies alone.

    But if they aren't, then Obama has benefited from 'racial lines'; he's got votes simply because he is black. And it's not far from that to suggest that they didn't vote for McCain "because he is white".

    Race issues don't just relate to the nasty white man being a bit racist!

    Of course, I'm happy Obama has won, I'm delighted the US have their first black president - but mainly because he is a democrat, rather than a republican. But I can't help feel for John McCain who I feel deserved better than some of the more rabid sections of the republican support.

  2. Hey Jack

    Toby emailed me as he couldn't post a comment for some reason.

    Here's his response:

    'Having seen Obama to be a man of character and intelligence, it is perfectly legitimate for voters, black or white, to move on to voting for him, to one extent or another, because he is black. This country has been run by white men since its first settlement. It is past time for other elements of the citizenry to be represented at the top of the ladder. I know no one, black or white, who made the decision based on race alone. No doubt some did - but most people of both races felt he was the best man for the job.'

    'That fact recognized, of course the black community will rejoice at one of their own winning. Why should they not? The joy is not merely because he is black (sort of) but because one of their own is indeed the best man for the job and has been so recognized by the majority.'

    'As for McCain, the man is a proven liar. His much vaunted war record in fact shows him to be the least competent Navy pilot (I believe he lost 7 planes)He graduated at the bottom of his class. H is ability make choices and decisons is best exemplified by his apalling choice of VP. His record as a veteran's advocate is a sham. Need I go on?'

    I would add that although McCain ended with an honourable speech the campaign wasn't. He did next to nothing about the hate which it engendered. Infact he went so far as to employ the same repthug tactics, stooping to hiring the same robocall practitioners who used racist tactics against him in the 2000 primaries (calls saying he'd fathered an illegitimate black baby).

    He also lost any credibility anyone might have claimed for him by choosing Palin and putting her one returning cancer episode from the presidency.

    You have to remember as well that the GOP has made no effort recently to be anything except the white party. It hasn't any black members in Congress any more.

    Black people have always been democrats overwhelmingly, 85% went for Kerry. But the GOP had previously made some effort to look less white - GW Bush should get some credit and that's one reason why they previously won more black votes. They didn't made an effort this time.

  3. just thought
    'Black people have always been democrats overwhelmingly' isn't quite true.

    until the 60s those that did vote would vote GOP - the party of Lincoln. but in the 60s the dems changed and become the party of the kennedy's and LBJ and supported civil rights. On the other side the GOP changed and used the 'southern strategy' to turn the south 'red' using thinly veiled racism.

  4. Oh, I'm not disputing a lot of what Toby said: I think Obama was the best candidate, and I can understand the rejoicing, but there is obviously a racial element to the rejoicing when part of it is because he is to be the first black president. And yes, it is about bloody time.

    McCain's ability - or otherwise - to fly a plane is surely irrelevant to whether or not he would be a good statesman; sadly that 'lost 7 planes' jibe is the sort of smear I would have expected to be associated with the - as you point out - highly negative republican campaign.

    Yet I don't blame McCain for all of that: yes, he was obviously complicit, but McCain wasn't happy about Obama being booed; he made a point about respecting him when confronted with fervent anti-Obama people (until his advisors presumably told him not, under any circumstances, to say anything positive about him).

    It should be about policies, and issues. Not about skin colour and ability to fly planes.

    I disliked the republican campaign as much as you, but you have to remember that just because someone is on the other side doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. That's the route the 'Nobama' people went down and it's wrong.

  5. Whoops - forgot to add - the most salient point of Toby's whole post was the bit I agree with most:

    "That we can look at our neighbors of other races and see them as the same as us"

    That's truly colour blind. To give you an example, my five year old is learning to read. One of the exercises he has to do is read out a simple book, and then I have to go through it with him asking questions. One of the prompt questions is "how is the boy in the book alike/different to you".

    - we're both boys
    - he has brown eyes, I have blue
    - he has curly hair, mine is straight
    - he has a dog and I have two cats
    - he is playing with a ball
    - I am inside, and he is outside on the pictures
    - I think he is older than me
    - He has a nice smile (smiles). Do I have a nice smile?
    - His skin is brown and mine is white

    To my child, it was virtually the last thing he noticed; almost an irrelevance. That ability not to immediately see the colour of skin as a difference is where we need to be heading.