where the writers are
Pride and Prejudice
Barack Obama/Harvey Milk

California’s Shame Tarnishes a Stunning American Renewal

Nothing much could spoil the moment. When Barack Obama was announced President-Elect at approximately 8.00pm Pacific Standard Time, the hardest of hearts had to have shed a tear at the sheer enormity of the moment.

Ever since I left South Africa to become an American, more than twenty one years ago, I have found America’s hypocrisy around racism repugnant. She spoke a good game on paper, but when push came to shove, as I witnessed during the Rodney King riots, the land that spawned the Ku Klux Klan hadn’t strayed too far from her roots.

As my former country transformed, shedding Apartheid like a soiled coat, electing Nelson Mandela president, and producing the most progressive constitution on the planet, my new home welcomed me with “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell,” and Trent Lott.

It seems like only yesterday that ugly racists like John McCain’s buddy Don Imus were calling journalists like Gwen Ifill “cleaning ladies” and the young women of Rutgers’ basketball team “nappy headed hos.” The campaign leading up to last night was just as ugly. The not-so-soft whispering about Obama’s “true character”.

The stunning moment when McCain was forced to correct one of his supporters who had swallowed too much of his campaign’s racist Kool Aid, referring to Obama as an untrustworthy Arab. No, McCain defended. He was a decent human being. Because as we all know, Arabs and decent human beings are mutually exclusive.

Yet something shifted Tuesday night in spite of the thinly veiled racist slights and blatant racist email campaigns and smears, calling Obama a Muslim. That One. The Other. Too white. Not black enough. Not white enough. The replacing of Uppity with Elite. As I wrote just a few weeks back, in the thick of it – that Sarah Palin represented the “Tits on the Ticket personification of America’s racist undertone, allowing the narrowest of minds the perfect conduit to get away with voting for the bitch rather than the nigger and still look progressive.”

America said enough. The same America I begrudgingly forgave for screwing up the election in 2000, but loathed with unforgiving disdain for actually voting Bush into office in 2004, finally said enough.

America’s new President-Elect opened up a new and necessary chapter. I felt it Tuesday night, and again yesterday, and as I write now. The Bush nightmare with its ugly and hateful cast of characters will slowly fade into the background, despite the decade’s worth of damage they leave in their toxic, torturous wake.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for California, who chose to enshrine narrow-minded fear into its constitution. Funded significantly by a bunch of Utah-based Mormons, petrified at the notion of a same sex wedding, although not at the prospect of a union between one man and many women, Prop 8 passed. California will not recognize same sex marriages.

South Africa, upon shedding Apartheid, made sure that its constitution specifically prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, setting a global example of what equality looked like.

While the election of Obama -- this watershed moment, for all its wonderful, historic importance – is worthy of joyous celebration, California’s cowardly clutch to the past, where fear, hatred and discrimination still have their claws in deep, demonstrates that America still has a long way to go before attempting to reclaim her moral authority.

2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Excellent blog. Well said.

Excellent blog. Well said.

Comment Bubble Tip

Barack Obama elected but No on 8

Yes, you are right.  Skin color is only . . . skin deep.  Apartheid in the U.S.A. is still as bad as it was the day before the election results.  The racial profile, number of colored people in prison, torture in prison, Jena 6, well, you know the list goes on and on.

Although a dark skinned family in the White House gives the country a new visual which can't be underestimated in a TV society.  And most of the younger generation doesn't seem to use color as a measuring stick.  Hopefully they will be open minded about life choices as well.

The fear of same sex marriage is a mystery to me.  I like different ideas. I like people that aren't like me.  People are people. WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?

I first heard Palin televised from the Rebp. party.  I tried to avoid her from then on.  Her utter lack of kindness was astonishing.   Her patronizing attitude and disdain or disgust for seemingly everyone else - even her audience aren't the attributes of a leader.

In these ways she reminded me of a parallel Bush.  But Bush, clearly an alcoholic, so comfortable with lies,  his vacuous understanding of reality, and his whole disturbing troubled package has been kept out of the limelight as much as possible.

We should be so lucky with an ambitious Palin in the future!

On Prop 8, is it legal to tell people they can marry on one day and switch to "Woops, oh, no, you aren't married at all? The people have voted"

I aways wonder if people understand what they are voting for or against with all these propositions.