Sunday, November 16, 2008

Race and politics

I made a conscious decision not to talk about politics on this blog. Why? Politics give us reason to form prejudices about other people, make assumptions about who they are and what they believe. More often than not, they are divisive and take us far from our common humanity.

But I'm going to make one exception today.

Last night, Michael and I watched The Great Debaters, a movie based on a true story about a debate team at a small black college in the 1930s that went on to break the race barrier by competing against white institutions, all the way up to Harvard.

Now, the film is rather formulaic (some reviewers compared it to a traditional sports movie); however, there are a few scenes so powerful that made me understand racism in America like I never have before.

Growing up in liberal, northeast communities most of my whole life, racism has seen more abstract, and I have witnessed very few overt racist acts. More often than not, it is something that I speculated -- was that decision based at all upon the person's race? Is this person treating that person differently because of their race?

However, what this film allowed me to experience viscerally was the fear of being the victim of racial violence -- something that was a very real possibility even for educated middle class black families that seemed, color aside, a lot like mine.

I was amazed that things were like this in the South not even one hundred years ago. But at least they are different now, I thought last night. And now we even have a black President!

So imagine my utter disbelief and disgust finding this article in the news this morning: Election spurs 'hundreds' of race threats, crimes.

Politics are politics. If you voted against Obama because you don't agree with his policies, that does not make you a racist. A great many Americans saw beyond race when making their political decision, whether for a Democrat or a Republican.

While it was not the deciding factor for me in my vote, I am very happy that the race barrier has been broken for the highest office in the land. (Now we just need to see the gender barrier broken, as well!)

But it really disturbs me that there are people so hateful that they are hoping for the President's death and teaching their children that. How else would a schoolbus full of second- and third-graders be chanting "assasinate Obama"?

I wish all those people could see movies like The Great Debaters and realize the horror of their ways and the humanity of us all.


Iris said...

Hi Holly. I enjoy reading your blog. I found you through the Mayan Families Connection group. You might want to check out this amazing site, From 52 to 45 With Love. I think it speaks to some of your post, although it is about reconciliation between Democrats and Republicans, Red States and Blue States. Unfortunately, it is generating hate mail too.

It all started here on Nov. 5:

Have a safe and productive trip to Pana. Sounds like it will be a memorable one.

Lyn (Irismama)

Holly said...

Hi Lyn,

Thank you so much for posting! That is a really cool site! I had never heard of it before, so thanks for passing it along.

Thank you for the well wishes on the trip. We're really looking forward it.


Nikki said...

Yes, yes, yes... just watched this movie a few weeks ago and LOVED it.