Post [Election] Race America
The race for presidential office of the United States is over and whether or not you agree with the electoral college’s selection, your feelings of uncertainty have surely been reduced to a degree. President Obama tried to convey a sense of optimism regarding the future of this nation and its ability to achieve great heights while considering a diverse range of opinions. If you’ve ever been assigned a group project, you can understand how daunting this task can be. Trying to decide on the layout of a Power Point presentation for an objective topic is already a pain in the ass with five people, working with more than 500 people on a project that serves 300 million can’t be the business. Even though the United States has a history laced with exploitation, oppression and violence, it has emerged as a world leader in civil rights and human progress. In order for this progress to continue, we must learn from passed mistakes. This may be why rhetoric regarding “traditional American values” may not resonate with some of us.
America’s ability to mature is remarkable. There’s plenty that we can work on, but we’re doing better than most at this point in time. We’ve made tremendous strides in this most recent election alone. Black voter turnout increased by four percent, same-sex marriage was legalized in an additional four states and a record of twenty senators will be women. Our strides are large and small, but we continue to move forward. All of this change hasn’t occurred without ruffling a few feathers. I mean, if I my ideal America was essentially Pleasantville, I’d be pissed. One episode of Modern Family would give me a conniption. All of the racism we’ve talked about on this site is an indicator of the aggravation that many white people in America are experiencing. Every time these folks turn on the news, that Black Commander and Chief is getting under their skin. Five hundred students took to the campus of University of Mississippi minutes after President Obama was reelected. It started as a protest of his policies, but it quickly incorporated racial epithets. This suggests that some voters’ political stances are partially based on race. As always, online social networks also aired out America’s dirty laundry during this election season.
Thankfully, the interwebs were able to effectively cut down some of these racists, but there were simply too many violators to meme. The hundreds of thousands of racist tweets, status updates and comments revealed the uglier side of Post Racial America. If Obama promised free L.L. Bean and mayonnaise-based salads for everybody, and they’d still hate him. No policy implementation can overshadow a deeply entrenched belief system, no matter how ignorant those beliefs may be.
Much of the toxic partisan talk can be attributed to disparaging generalizations that are promoted by many politicians, special interest groups and media outlets. There are so many complex issues to address that candidates’ platforms are Sparknoted down to caricatures. Romney was a cold-hearted, narrow-minded, out of touch capitalist and the President is a Muslim Black supremist Kenyan operative hell-bent on destroying America. Since this recent election was centered around the “direction of America”, the generalizations extended to the various segments of our voting population. Romney supporters were racists who wanted to take us back to the 1950’s and give all of our money to the rich while Obama supporters were freeloading non-Americans who treated employment like the plague. These extreme assertions prevailed during the election season and impacted all Americans who were paying any attention.
The night of the election, my girlfriend informed me that one of our white friends was voting for Mitt Romney. I said “Word?!” and began to think to myself,
“I wonder if Stacey racist?”
Then I had a moment of introspection and realized that there was no reason for me go there. Stacey was a good friend of my girlfriend and every interaction I had with her had been incredibly positive. We spent holidays together, why was she considered a racist all of a sudden? She may have simply trusted Mitt Romney to do a better job than the president and honestly believed in his plans for energy and job creation. Mitt Romney never said anything blatantly racist about Black people, he just promoted ideals and policies that would royaly screw the Black community. Stacey is a White, christian woman from Georgia, where even the dirt is red. It shouldn’t be a shock that she voted for Mittens. I work in an office with southern white folk, and most of us get along just fine. Automatically labeling people as racist elitists is almost as extreme as calling Obama supporters “lazy niggers”. Given, the latter is much more abrasive, but both extreme positions are based on generalized exaggerations. I’ve seen tweets on my timeline about how “White people are mad” when the election was over. I saw other tweets on the public timeline referring to Obama only winning because Blacks blindly voted for their own kind. Black people are twelve percent of the population, mad white people clearly voted for the president.
It’s easy to get swept up the sensationalism and divisiveness of our political landscape, but we have to step outside of ourselves and make sure we don’t end up being hypocritical. An ability to objectively criticize yourself is a strong indicator of maturity, but we’re a young nation. We have prided ourselves our ability to provide opportunity to an ethnic array of hard-working citizens. Our nation will only continue to diversify and we will undoubtedly encounter more emotional topics that incite endless disagreement. I think the best way for us to move forward is to embrace diversity of opinion and values. We follow a path to stagnation by treating the values and opinions of a small subset of the population as governing law.
The democratic process is difficult, but it’s based on a noble mission to build upon understanding and compromise. Post-Racial America continues to mature and modestly try to live up to its name. The same freedoms that allow ignorance to pervade the media and interwebs are the same freedoms that allow us to exercise our civil rights and effectively change our society. We work and interact with different people on a daily basis with no problem until election season. Then we start unfollowing and unfriending people. If all of us, politicians and the voting public alike, take the time to understand and listen to each other, we might see that there’s less to argue about. I’m an atheist whose closest friends are in theology school, I know this is possible.
Information about the world, our history and each other is readily available to us as citizens of this free nation. We stand to benefit from remembering that unwavering ignorance is a self-incriminating characteristic.
You have a right to not look like a fool.