A little under a block from where I work, there is a convenient store that also serves a few hot items to eat, like chicken, casseroles, and some breakfast sandwiches. I decided to pick up lunch there earlier this afternoon – to save some money – rather than go to a BBQ joint with a couple of friends. On the way back, a guy about to cross the street with me, said that he had to ask me something. His “something” turned into an odd, 10-minute Q&A.
He first asked:
“I’ve gotta ask you, and I mean no offense. Do you like the way that Obama is running things?” Before I could answer – and I hesitated a second because I didn’t think that this was where he was going with his question – he also asked:
“I also need to know, and you can tell me truthfully: did you vote for Obama because he’s Black? I know a lot of Blacks did. I have some Black neighbors that are very religious that voted for him. But how can they support his messing with the Constitution and believe in God, too?”
Well, I had planned on being back in the office building by now, eating my cheese sticks and my Cheddar-Broccoli bites. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to answer the first question, whether or not he would believe the answer to the 2nd question, and whether or not I should walk away. Some frustrations from lack of decent sleep for the last week and a work team change on Wednesday afternoon that blindsided me – and had me still bristling a little bit, up til lunch today, combined with these 2 questions, were threatening to come out in the form of a sardonic reply. Instead, I said:
“I think he is in some matters, not so well in others. As for me voting because of his skin color- no, actually.”
“I didn’t even vote for him in 2012, but he was a better option than what was on the other side.”
[I voted for Jill Stein]
At this point, he kind of chuckles, then says:
“Well, we all believe in different things that I can’t change. I can’t help what I think or say, ever since I was in the Marine Corps. But it is a shame how Obama is rewriting the Constitution just for those gay issues and for other issues. What do you think?”
I wish that I was making this up. I also wish that I had started recording it on my phone as proof….
Somehow, to this man, not only did President Obama gain the powers to rewrite the Constitution but religious Black people that support the LGBT community have become abominations that shouldn’t have voted for him?
“This about the Supreme Court ruling? Obama doesn’t and can’t rewrite the Constitution. He doesn’t have the authority.”
“But he’s sitting on top of the mountain so he can influence them.”
I think my Poly Sci professor, Professor Cummings, yelled out a scream of frustration from Jeff. Comm. College’s Downtown campus, after that wave of ignorance washed over me and bowled its down there.
At this point, I just shrugged, bit my tongue – harder than normal and harder than I have in a long time – and said “we’ll see.” He actually thanked me for answering him honestly, which was a little surprising, then made a cool comment about how cool being in Marching Band is (I was wearing an old band shirt) and walked away.
4 1/2 hours later, I’m still trying to puzzle my way through that whole exchange. I understand, with the SCOTUS ruling earlier, that opinions on both sides are running high and hot (for example, the idiotic Facebook Status Of The Day: “now, at least Michelle Obama doesn’t have to dress like a woman anymore!”). However, I don’t know if that guy was fishing for a reaction from me, especially given the way he looked at me when I said that race wasn’t why I voted for President Obama, or if he really was looking for honest answers. From the feeling that I got as the conversation went on, it felt like the former. Whatever the case, his statement about the way he thinks brings up an interesting point.
Almost all of us have beliefs, positions, values, and ideals that we feel so strongly and rigidly for (or against), that we almost cannot change them. I believe that hard work and results, regardless of your background, should be rewarded. Others believe that number of degrees you have or who you are buddies with will push you higher than others. 3 of the big positions in today’s society are Race, the Confederate Flag (which ties in to Race), and LGBT Rights. There are some that have flooded social media with pictures of the Rebel Flag, because “Liberals are attacking our heritage!” (that’s an actual cut-and-paste). Others say that the flag should have come down decades ago, being that it symbolizes the slavery abd brutality of the post-colonial, pre-Civil Rights South. It’s a shame that so many people believe that you are “wrong” if you don’t believe in what they believe. The guy that I talked to seemed pretty set in his views; I am a little more flexible with mine. Is that guy “wrong” for thinking that all Blacks voted for Obama because he was Black? Am I wrong for applauding the SCOTUS’ decision to reverse the Gay Marriage Ban in the 6th District?
Whatever the case may be, the lunch conversation is another example of what feels to me like barely-concealed racism towards the President and his family…. that has
trickled flowed flooded back into mainstream society. Too many times, there has been a racist comment here, an editorial drawing featuring an Obama and Watermelon, Bananas, blackface, or monkeys there, and the boat load of statements everywhere that start with “I’m not a racist, but….” That convo also featured the feeling, for a long time by some, that somehow, allowing gay marriage would bring civilization crumbling down in an pile of marriage-killing, animal-marrying, flamboyant, rainbow-colored rubble. Do you know what it would do? It would allow the couples to have the same rights that heterosexuals do. A good friend from High School that had to travel out-of-state to marry her partner, can now officially marry here here in Kentucky. Same with a co-worker that’s currently engaged to her partner; they can, if/when they want, become an “official” married couple. And those couples, and thousand of others, aren’t going to destroy the fabric of society by having rings on their fingers.
Unless they were Black Lanterns. Then we ALL are screwed.