The other day, my 8-year old granddaughter, Emma Jean asked why was I so gung ho for Obama.
"I thought you said its time for a woman to be president," she told me.
Should I tell Emma, I wondered, that even though Black women were on the front lines of suffrage (Sojourner Truth) and civil rights, (Rosa Parks) that there are more Black women living in poverty, earning less, suffering and dying at twice the rate from cancer, heart disease and HIV complications than any other ethnicity, especially white women? Thereby it was difficult to identify with or relate to the privilged, white, female candidate running.
Or should I tell her that since slavery, Black men have been endangered? That as a result, Black women have hushed voices when it comes to their ideas, their oppressions, to make sure that those of their men are acknowleged. That the targeted Black male needs the attention, and not only are Black women's rapes, abuses and harrassments, but their accomplishments and visions are not society priorities, their cries for help and recognition are barely heard.
How do I, a baby boomer, burned bra and all, explain to this child, to whom I tell almost daily that she can do and be whatever her heart desires if she's willing to do the work, about the double whammy syndrome? (Bing Black and Female) A syndrome that energizes some but marginalizes more Black women every bit as much as either of the so-called "isms" of race and gender through silence and/or apathy. So how did I decide to cast my lot in the political arena behind a man as opposed to a woman?
I was reminded through this decision process, of yet another self-defining truth. Something years of surviving and thriving through good and bad times in black skin has taught me. That is--to understand and believe that self-worth is the key that strengthens the heart and enables the mind to make wise choices. To like me well enough to remain open to learning about myself in order to keep evolving so that I can be the best that I can be in order to recognize the same in others.
I was also reminded of something my mother once said about marriage. The analogy, I think, is appropriate for this election. She said, "Remember, no one is perfect. Not even you. And while you might have this idea of the man you want to marry, chances are, that's your heart talking. So make sure you know his faults as well as you know his good points. That will be your head talking. If you can adore him for his faults and live with his good points, that's your head and your heart talking to each other. And that's the man you should marry."
My heart tells me that a woman should be president. But my mind couldn't come up with a compelling reason why that woman should be Hillary.
My heart tells me how proud I am of Obama, a smart, strong brother and his beautiful, intelligent black wife. My head tells me that my country needs the passion of his youth, his fresh approach. But even more importantly, that if other young leaders are inspired by his success and decide to run for public office, particularly Congress, we Americans might actually get to experience the change the country and the world needs.
So here I am, a black, boomer feminst who voted for a man over a woman for the highest office in the land, having to explain that choice to my impressionable granddaughter. But if this primary season has taught me anything, it is that casting a vote can be every bit as personal and important as choosing a mate. And my head and my heart agree. Its Barack's time. That's what I said to Emma.
"Andif he can do it," I told her, "so will a woman."