Monday, January 21, 2008

King Holiday


I lied to my boss the other day.

He asked me who I liked in the upcoming election and I just know he wanted me to say Obama and I know that's what he expected me to say. Anyone who has been at this blog for two seconds knows that I have, let's say, very strong political opinions. But my bosses don't know about my blog and I have no intention of telling them either.

My boss is white. Sweet, young, kind and I'm quite sure, when he asked his question, curious about "what black people think". I could have gone there, but it would have been wrong to do so. What I think is exactly that - what I think. But I know that I am probably one of the few black people the white folks in my office come in contact with on a daily basis. I cannot and will not be responsible for them relegating all of "black community" thought to my one opinion.

Then again, my answer was as much to avoid putting him on the spot as anything else, like the reaction that blog pal The Skeptic One came across:
Some of my white friends are telling me Obama can’t and won’t be elected president. Their reasoning is simple, America is still too racist to seriously consider a black man for the white house.

My question to them is...”does this mean you’re not voting for him either?” At which point they are horrified that I’ve alluded to the fact that they, too, might be too racist to vote for a black man.
So, in the few seconds between his blunt question and my neutral answer, I decided something. I will never, ever discuss politics with the white people I work for and with. I like them; they are very kind and not in a condescending, "let's be kind to a black person this week" way either. But I simply cannot and will not discuss politics with them. I just don't think they could handle what I'd have to say. It's best if they go on thinking I'm their slightly ditzy admin who can barely work the comb binder than that I actually have a brain that spans the depth and breadth of the current political scene.

So what did I tell him? "None of the above," which in my logic, is sort of what I like to think of as a "true lie".

I truly don't like any of the GOP candidates including that patron saint of torture John McCain. I know there are some other Dems running besides Edwards, H. Clinton and Obama, but honestly, I can't think of any of their names. (Note to self: time to research a blog post on the Dems like my previous one on the Repubs.) I don't think Edwards stands a chance despite him being quite deserving. I heard someone say this past weekend, "the fix is in for Hillary", and I'm inclined to believe the cynacism of that statement.

But truthfully, I absolutely believe that Obama is the best candidate. I have my reservations about Barack but they all have to do with the viability of the candidacy, not exactly the candidate himself. The answer to that "Is White America ready for a Black President" question is, sadly, 'No.' Oh, I know, they never put the white in there, but they may as well. You may even be able to hoodwink some black folks into believing that Obama isn't the best guy running, or that they shouldn't vote for him "just because he's black" but you can be damned sure that there are many people in this country who aren't going to vote for him that same reason. As far as I'm concerned, that he's black isn't the only reason to give him my vote, but it is as good a reason as any other.

And so, today, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Day. There are times when I feel a certain disconnect from the black community - but then I realize that the fictional "black community" was made up by the "mainstream" media and I don't feel so bad.

The progression of the King Holiday is startling to me. When I was a child, we did what all black folks did on holidays back then: You went to church and thanked God for having a day off. After a while, most folks figured, let's have a shorter church service and a family reunion after. And for the longest time, black people got together on King holiday for a sort of mid-winter Fourth of July.

Every now and again, someone will inevitably try to pull of a Serious Symbolic Re-enactment March. I have an American's knowledge of history so I can't tell you what the date was, but I've seen films of the March on Washington and not one person is wearing a coat. Dr. King had more sense than to try and pull of a Civil Rights version of Valley Forge.

I remember a few comedians saying that King Holiday wouldn't be a real holiday until there were King Day sales. Well, it's official then. According to Digg.com via Yahoo Answers, the following stores are officiallyhaving MLK Day Sales: Dell, Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, Sears, Kohls, K-Mart and Toys R Us. I'm inclined to agree with this post at Yahoo Answers.
...having a sale on MLK Day is sort of like having a 9/11 Sale. It is decidely crass and completely NOT what the Dr. King Holiday is supposed to be about.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday should be a national day of celebration for peace, harmony and remembrance of the Civil Rights struggle. It should not be just another day to have a "white sale".
My hometown's monument to slavery, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is touting free admission all day and lot's of activities. There's also a double header basketball tournament. Several church celebrations and the like.

Ah well, at least part of Dr. King's vision came true. Black children and white children have all come together in a collective sigh of relief that they have a day off from school.

But I'm off to work.

5 comments:

  1. Well said....I also don't discuss, religion or abortion...Pretty soon, I may have to take a vow of silence...

    As for MLK...check out my commentary at www.helium.com...I made it to the homepage...Mlk vs Malcolm X...I thought it was a stupid question to begin with..but I reined myself in and answered it...they decided to feature it today...I wrote it a few weeks ago..

    keep up the good work

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  2. Good column. I'm a white, middle-aged woman, and I'm voting for Obama, though I really don't have a problem with Clinton or Edwards.

    I just like the idea of "that face" with "that grin" going out all over the world as a picture of the "new America". It might win us back a few friends we've lost in the last seven years.

    By the way, my birthday is January 15th (1951) and I've always been damn proud I share the date with Dr King. I also share - supposedly - the same date and year with Charo, though if she's 57, hell, I'm 37!

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  3. Our primaries are still months away, and I haven't made a decision yet.

    I won't discuss politics at work either, because I'm quite sure I'm surrounded by Republicans.

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  4. I don't really discuss politics with anyone offline, regardless of race. The reason has less to do with potentially offending anyone and more to do with how disappointed I become when people I know say something I consider stupid.

    A couple of weeks ago, my ex said that she is supporting Hillary Clinton because she's a woman before she's a black woman. See what I'm talking about?

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  5. If the Democrats nominate Clinton #2 instead of the next Kennedy, they deserve to lose to McCain.

    I also will not discuss politics at work. Better to just do your work and stick to work talk as much as possible IMO.

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