where the writers are
Store-to-Store for Obama
My son Sean Wilsey gives his book State by State to President-elect, Barack Obama

    Did you go all out to get Barack Obama elected president the way I did? Did you encounter racial prejudice the way I did? 

    I was so encouraged by the ideas Barack Obama put forth and the change his policies represented, that I couldn’t do enough to help get him elected. I was happy to put energy, money, and shoe-leather, behind a candidate I could believe in.

    I invited like-minded strangers into my home for Obama events.
I put an Obama sign in front of my Beverly Hills home where it was promptly stolen. A replacement sign was also stolen. Trying to outwit the thieves I ordered Obama stickers and plastered them on my mailbox, the façade of my home, my car bumper, and anywhere else they would stick.   

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    My son Sean Wilsey and his wife Daphne Beal and their two young children drove from Manhattan to Indiana to go door-to-door for Obama. They did the same thing in Philadelphia and then they went to Ohio for five days, kids in tow, living in cramped quarters with other volunteers while they knocked on doors. Sean even shelled out to attend a Manhattan reception for Obama. He sent me his photo with Obama looking at his new book State by State. That picture is at the top of this blog.

    While Sean was going door-to-door I was going store-to-store. Wearing an Obama tee shirt I hit famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. At Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Cartier and Tiffany, I campaigned for Obama. At Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and other tony stores and boutiques I touted Obama. Invariable, the sales staff gave me a thumbs-up and big smiles as well as perfume and eye cream samples. But a well-drawn, thin woman, looking very 90210 riding in the elevator with me at a high-end boutique became upset when I asked if she was registered to vote. “Madam,” she said. “I’m a long time resident of this community. Of course I’m registered to vote.”

    I hoped my smile was a winning one, “You’re voting for Obama, I hope.”

    “A black man? Never,” she said. I felt like I had been hit  in the stomach.

    My sister, a life long Democrat, told me she would not vote for Obama.

    “Why not?”

    “He’s too full of himself.”

    “You mean he’s black.”

    “He thinks he’s too smart.”

    “We’ve had a dumb president for eight years, is that what you want?”

    “He has big ears!”

    My sister is ninety-two so I let it go. But it disturbed me to realize that she is a racist. I love her in spite of it.

    As I continued to campaign, I encountered plenty of Obama support but also prejudice in unexpected places. A laborer said Obama was a Muslim. He’s a terrorist, the man said.  When I could take it no longer I bought a strawberry ice cream cone and sat on a Rodeo Drive curb eating it, letting the drips run down my arms the way I did as a kid.  

    My preacher dad fought for equality the whole of his life. In the first chapter of Whispers From God I write about how he invited black people to his services at a time when it was dangerous to do so. As a result of his courageous stand my father’s white clapboard church was burned to the ground and he was tossed out of the church. Our family ended up on welfare, or relief as it was then called. My dad died shortly afterward. And now here we are seventy-three years later, and racial bigotry still exists in our country. But happily, not enough to keep a good man from becoming president of the United States of America.

Comments
19 Comment count
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He. Has. Big. EARS. ?!

I'm sorry, Pat; I know racism isn't funny, and I don't mean to make fun of your sister, but that remark made me howl.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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My silly Sister!

My sister is so judgmental and nutty in how she assesses people and events, that if I weren’t related to her I would laugh, too. FYI: I’m the only perfect member of my large birth family.

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President Obama

     I love the idea of brilliance in the White House.  Not only is Barack Obama brilliant, but I believe he is a genuinely good person.  I've never understood racism.  To me it is like a form of insanity.  Based in fear, practiced in willfully ignorant demonstration, or hidden behind polite smiles...Oh, here I go...I just wanted to thank you for this, and say I think Barack Obama is a great man, and will be a great president.  Peace. 

 

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President Obama!

Thanks for your insightful comments, Cary. It seems that just as nations too often need an enemy so it is that those who are self righteous and insecure search for a reason to feel superior to others; skin color, shape of eyes, ears, poverty, clothing, or even, ahem, the car we drive, Mr. Chrysler!

Imagine Peace

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Thanks for the smile

    I drive an '01Toyota Corolla, my wife drives a '94 Subaru Legacy...but we did have a Dodge Omni long ago.

 

    Here's to better days...  

There is one teaching, and all teachings teach it.

 

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Thank you!

Volunteers like you have helped to change our nation for the better, and I can't thank you enough.  You've done your father proud.  Cary said it so well already, but it bears repeating.  If our nation can have a black President--big ears or no--there is real hope.

Peace.

Louise Marley

www.louisemarley.com

www.tobybishop.net

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good and informative too

hi pat,

          this is dr. jitu rajgor from india. we were watching last election in usa very closely. we are due for our next national election in four months period. from your informative blog i can see that its your kind of true people who can upbring the change in society. i some time feel hopeless, seeing laziness of ppl for national problem and finding ascuses even to vote for the right candidate. i hope we also can bring a change in political scenario with right kind of man like obama to combat with terrorisam.

                                                                           jitu rajgor

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The Hundredth Monkey

Often when we feel hopeless and then we act against that hopelessness, we find that to be the right time to create change. We feel better, too, by acting.  If we make one little change in society and get one other person involved, the changes become exponential. We can't concern ourselves with what others are not doing, but only with what we are doing. In 1982, when I began working to give children a voice for peace, I read The Hundredth Monkey by Ken Keys, the true story of monkeys that were being studied on Islands off the coast of Japan. One day a baby monkey on one of the Islands was observed to be washing the sand off his sweet potato before eating it. Soon all the monkeys on that Island were also washing the sand off their potatoes. And than a startling thing happened. Scientists on the other Islands noted that their monkeys were doing the same thing, as if the information had traveled from mind to mind and ignited change in behavior. A new book The Tipping Point conveys the same information. When we reach critical mass with an idea and actions everything falls in line and, HOORAY, change happens.
Do you remember Sunil Dutt’s peace walk across India? Sunil happened to have arrived in New Delhi just as I arrived there with an international group of children. We are friends and so Sunil invited us to join him at five AM at the India Gate to walk with him as far as we could. What an amazing experience that was! Roses tossed at us and overpasses garlanded with yellow marigolds as hordes of people followed Sunil...a famous film star and a Member of Parliament at that time. I love India and feel so sad about the recent terroists attacks in Bombay. 

Thank you for writing to me.

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thank you patsy

thanks for your long reaply with inspiaring monkey story.I show your reply to my daughter Amoli , she likes the story most.

                                                                                            jitu

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Change comes hard, but whether we like it or not, it comes

Pat:

I read your blog with interest.  Like the one reader, the "big ears" comment made me laugh, but what sticks are the serious comments.  What you encountered is what I call "people being the mindless, take the easy way out, reactive" creatures they are.  If its different, we hate it.  If we don't understand it, we hate it.  If it requires us to think or make any effort, we hate it.  I am reminded of an NPR broadcast in which a lady said, she couldn't vote for Obama because if he was elected he would be looking out for the interest of Black folks.  Now, I'm sure she didn't think carefully about how that statement came across, but for a moment, I wondered - does that mean the previous 42 presidents only looked out for the interests of White folks.  Of course, it didn't, but people can be so irrational sometimes.

In addition to the race thing, I think a lot of people have just been frightened about the "change" thing, prefering the suffering they are familiar with to the unknown of change.  As a fellow Texan (albeit, one who transplanted to the "other" coast), you have my admiration for not only a well written article, but for being who you are.

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Change

Dear Charles:
Thank you so much for your insightful words.
It's difficult for me to understand why people are afraid of change. Change is the law of life and, as you said, like it or not, it’s happening every minute. Five years ago I moved from San Francisco, where I had lived since 1960, to Los Angeles. Like a plant, I needed to repot myself. I was root bound. My friends were aghast. How can you do that at you age? You call a mover, buy a ticket, and go, I said. Change keeps you alive. Otherwise you grow stagnant in the same old pot with the same old pictures on the table, wall, piano, wherever. You no longer even see them. Without change we could have Bush (Jeb?) as our president!

When he lived in Rome, New York, Alex Hailey taught me how to do a book outline. At that time he was working on a book he called Before This Anger. That book became Roots. Patsy Lou, Alex said to me one day, we are like blades of grass under the hard crust of earth. We are all fighting to push through that hard crust of earth to become a flower. But, he said, if one blade succeeds in pushing through, the other plants try to pull it back down. So, he said, remember to make your roots strong so others can’t pull you down to where they are, no matter how hard they try.
Amen

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fabulous

Wonderful eulogy on 'Change'. Very encouraging. People are afraid of change because they feel comfort in their present situation, no matter how illusionery it is. one needs courage to opt for a change. I am sure U.S will see the positive result of the change, they opted for.

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Not Black. Not White. A Wonderful Hybrid

I find it so amusing that people keep saying Obama is a black man.  He's not only that.  He's also white.  On top of this fine mix, he's intelligent and open-minded and well-traveled.  We're fortunate he offered to guide us forward.

I think you'll always find people afraid of those who are different.   It may not always be black and white (in fact, let's hope someday we get past beating this horse). But there are so many other colors and religions that seem strange and frightening, there will always be bigots. 

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Hybrids

 Your point is well taken. We are all hybrids. Recently, a young man from Argentina, a lovely young woman from Ethiopia, a woman from South Korea, and a doctor from Vietnam, flew to Dallas to support me when  I  received an award from Northwood University.  I introduced them as members of my family. No one questioned it. Hooray!

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RIDE ON (STORE TO STORE FOR OBAMA)

Madam,

Here in Nigeria we waited for an Obama victory like the coming of Christ. I hope I have the guts to stick up for my beliefs just as you rooted for Obama and anti-racism to the end.

Bookchief

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Obama has his own cross

Dear Bookchief:

If we don't have the guts to stick up for our beliefs, how can we expect others to? Otherwise, it seems to me, we are not living we are only existing.  Look at all the people who have stood firm in the face of unbelievable odds...Gandhi...Martin Luther King...oh, too many to  list on this blog. Please, research the names.  Be encouraged. Truly the best is yet to be. The world is changing fast and we are all part of that wonderful change...or not...

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Mom vs. Obama

Pat,

What a dad.  You can be so proud! 

I have a 90-year-old mother who has suffered many hardships in her life.  She was born in Ukraine of German parents, her brother was imprisoned as an "enemy of the state," which caused her to lose her college scholarship.  Still, she completed her courses at night and became a German teacher near Odessa.  During WWII, before the Germans invaded Ukraine, my mother faced down a death squad of the Russian underground whose intentions were to kill all German nationals to prevent them from helping the enemy.  But she lived to tell the story, and eventually immigrated to the U.S. 

Mom is a great patriot and will tell anyone that this is the greatest country on earth.  Although she has a part black, part white granddaughter, she was not at all convinced that this part black, part white man could be a good president.  I watched her struggle with this internal conflict of wishing to elect a Democrat, but wishing he were white.  But the night Obama gave his acceptance speech in Denver as the Democratic nominee, she was moved to tears.  His decency and his intelligence touched her so deeply that she was able to look past the color and see the person.  Watching her, I knew this was not only Obama's night, but also the night when my mother, my hero, became an even better person.

Irma

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Thank you

 I wish I had more time to reply to you  but suffice it to say, that now your mother is also my hero.

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ARTICLE ON BARACK OBAMA

Your article is neither lengthy

Nor very very short

It reveals somepeople's antipathy

with a not-thinking-properly heart

May God show those people sympathy

Let us carry on our loving part

M V VENKATARAMAN

mv.venkataraman@gmail.com