L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


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OCTOBER 19, 2012 1:16PM

The Current Political Discourse is Messing with My Head

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It has been said about me that I may be black, but I’m not “black enough.”  I might be presumed black, because I don’t look white, but I don’t “think black” and I don’t “act black.”

News flash:  I AM black, just as the President of the United States IS black.  The fact that we have equal amounts of white genes was declared irrelevant centuries ago in America, with the One Drop Rule.  That hasn’t changed, especially and profoundly for those of us who cannot pass for white – not that we would want to.

I  had a telling dream last night.  I was back at my college for a reunion.  This college in Wisconsin is in a town that prides itself as being The Birthplace of the Republican Party.  I had a great four years there – better than most, it could be argued.  Many of the white students from staunchly conservative families in that state found themselves in a battle with the Powers That Be in Mississippi to override their sorority’s “race clause,” which was preventing them from inviting me to join them.  At the time, I was the only black girl on campus.

When I returned there in 2010 for our 44th class reunion, it was as if no time had passed at all.  These were my friends, my sisters in the bond of sorority.

In my dream last night, I was treated as if those same “sisters” and friends had never seen me before.  Wherever I went, conversations stopped.  Plans for special activities were kept from me.  No one wanted to share a meal with me.

In real life, nothing even remotely similar to this dream had ever happened to me.  Due to the luck of the draw or an accident of birth, I grew up in an environment  where what we called prejudice was tastefully hidden behind lowered voices and Midwestern decorum. 

Yes, I had my feelings hurt, more than once, by the parents of school friends who wouldn’t go along with their own child’s choice of me as a friend; meaning, I wasn’t welcome in their homes.  But it took me a few years to figure that out, because the truth was always sugar-coated by “polite lies.”

My intense interest in politics here in my later years has caused an apparent sea change in my psyche. Because I believe it is important to keep up with what the opposition is saying and doing, I have been exposed to some of the most explicit racist language I have ever heard in my life.  I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a sizeable group of white Americans who despise Barack Obama just for being alive and not just for his so-called failed policies.

My world is being rocked by this process.  When challenger Mitt Romney told the President of the United States, in effect, to sit down and shut up on national television, I was shocked.  I have never seen a man holding that office be so blatantly disrespected to his face and in front of the world. 

When writers such as Open Salon blogger Chauncey de Vega, in his signature no-nonsense style, make the case for the racism that is driving a good portion of the opposition, conservative readers attack him for being a race baiter, whatever that is supposed to be.  Is he?  I don’t think he is.  I think he is unusually gifted in his ability to articulate what the rest of us are seeing, hearing, and feeling.

Earlier this week I received a link, from a person I once loved, to a far-right-wing website.  He directed me to a writer who had collected Tweets from black people that in various ways stated if Obama loses the election, they are going to riot.  With the link was one word from the sender: “scary.”

Why did I get that message?  What am I supposed to make of it?  Does this ignorant rhetoric from reckless young people indict the entire black community?  I have no idea.  I’m sure there are people out there who will want to use such a loss as an opportunity to behave like morons.  I am not one of them.  Nor am I sure that there aren’t comparable Tweets out in the ether from white supremacists who will want to tear up some real estate if President Obama wins a second term.

I have prided myself as being a person who exhausts all other reasonable possibilities before I decide a situation is racially driven.  I give everyone the benefit of the doubt – or at least I used to.  Today, I am suspicious of anyone and everyone who supports the election of Mitt Romney, especially those who are doing so only to get rid of Obama. 

That’s not how I usually roll.  I don’t like the feeling, but there it is.  This election cycle has been toxic to me, personally. 

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I couldn't agree more about the "Toxic" aspect of this election. I have friends on both sides who have urged me to declare who I am backing for President and that bothers me. I have always believed that a person's vote is his/her private business and something private to each voter. Not this time, no this time there is an attitude of: "You're with us or against us" and that is just not true.

I have lost friends on both sides because I will not engage in confratational politics and I will not proclaim how I plan on voting. the way I look at it is, if my choice for persident makes me unworthy of a person's friendship then they were never a real friend in the first place. I WILL vote and I will vote for the person I think is best for this country. I may win or I may lose, but either way the sun will come up the day after the election and my horses will still need to be fed. I will continue to live my life by a code taught to me by my father and his father before him. The fact that I will do this with fewer friends than I had before saddens me, but it is nothing I can't get over.
Forgive me for going so long in your comment section but this has been weighing heavily on my mind of late.
David, you can always take all the space you need on my blog. Yes, there was a time when a person's politics were only one of his or her many facets. Banter back and forth would happen for awhile and then the conversation would move on to family and movies and whatnot. However, maybe I wouldn't be so shocked by some of the things I am hearing today if people were more open about their feelings all along.
This election, much more than the last one, is exposing a whole 'nother level of ugly in this country. I don't think you can help but take it personally.
As far as I know, I am mostly white with about as much Cherokee as Elizabeth Warren. I am a member of the NAACP. I am proud to say that Benjamin Todd Jealous is from the place where I married Dan and he raised his kids. Jealous was a classmate and everyone in our family is proud of him. He is biracial like so many more people than is realized generally.

I disclose these things because these are facts that are about as evident from looking at any of us as the stupid remarks made by Brown to Warren demonstrated. The constant racial subtext, some of it horrifying, and some of it meant innocuously, demeans us and wears away at our ability to work together as citizens and blocks our opportunities miring us in regret, recrimination, and failed and outmoded thought patterns. We all get tired under the strain. Thank God that there are those of us who are willing to face what we may have internalized during tough times, and choose something better. When we are tired, we have one another. Thank God for folks like you Lezlie.
Have to agree. My husband is believed to be a conservative by many of his former friends, associates and clients. He is now an independent who is voting for Barack Obama. He shows me some of the blatant racist emails that are going around the circle of the entitled. It is disgusting.
I am tempted to expose them if one more person says it isn't racism that drives many of Romney's supporters. Wake up, those of you who don't understand the hatred right under the surface. Do you really want these people in power? You will suffer if you are not rich and white and conservative.
Jeanette: I don't think I could have ever imagined such ugliness.

Dr. Freeborn: When we are tired, we have one another. That is precisely the reason I wrote this piece. I have fought tirelessly for social justice most of my life. Today, I am just tired. Thanks for sharing your story. It's made me feel a little better.
Lea: I think the average American would be gobsmacked if they could see some of the messages exchanged about this election. Many conservatives believe they should be allowed to say the most outrageous things without being called out on their obvious racism. When we do call them out, we are called race baiters, racists, black racists (or Jewish or whatever) -- everything but correct.
I posted, in a comment on big Salon, that while I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that Tagg Romney's "I wanted to punch Obama in the mouth" was racially motivated, it sure was suspicious that this President seems to get more personally disrespectful comments from mainstream figures (forget the extremists) than any President in my lifetime. I loathed the Bush Administration, but not once did I think, "Gee, I'd like to slug him in the mouth"; in fact, I was offended when the Iraqi threw a shoe at him. Disagree with the policies if you want - that's what democracy is about - but show a little respect for the man and the office. But if you compare Obama to his predecessors and wonder what is the difference that makes him the target for so much invective, it's hard to come up with another explanation than his race.
Trust yourself Lezlie. That is exactly what is happening. I didn't become so angrily anti-Romney until it sunk in.
L, thanks for your post. I'm focused on the 'discourse' part of it although I understand the search for who or what to blame. As a conflict manager, I practice and teach dialogue and deliberation. The uncivil discourse warrants a fuller discussion. During the first presidential debate I found myself annoyed at the Governor's disrespect towards their moderator, who was rendered ineffective through interruptions and being talked over. Yes, the disrespect to the President is offensive. Isn't there also a bigger picture of disrespectful discourse passing for informed debate at many levels? Elevate the discourse and other pressing social issues can perhaps be solved collaboratively.
I was quite shaken by de Vega's post about a backlash against black people due to O's election.

But the evidence is all around us.

One can hope that the elation at O's election and the nastiness bubbling up now are two ends of the pendulum swing and, uh, where am I going with this? Back to in-between genteel 'polite' racism?

But I think Deborah has a point - there is so much nastiness out there now about so many kinds of people....including us sluts, uh, women, and about Hispanics, and just such a level of antagonism generally...
It's the synergism of stupidity and hatred.
Small minds of no merit collected into one.
Keeping the faith is, at times, exhausting. Brave of you two to tackle such an issue.
To be quite frank, I worried some nut would off Obama even prior to his election status being confirmed.
Some people fear needlessly, and irrational fear causes them to hate what they can't fathom. We humans have always done this, in various settings throughout history.

Both parties have their base who would rather die than change. I would guess that if you look closely at both of those bases you will find a__holes in both camps. Same with those who have a problem with race. There are both black and white ,and everything else, a__holes.

The problem with CDV is that he paints all people in a group with the same brush. Then when you point out that there are people just like that group in a group he does like, he refuses to use that brush on them.

Yes, I want to see Obama gone. I also wanted to see Carter gone. IMHO they both failed at being president. If I want Obama gone because of his race, why then did I want Carter gone? Remember gas prices and interest rates when Carter was president?

Look, identify who the jerks in your life are and get rid of them. Let them go and wallow in their own slop. You don't need them and I don't need them. My daddy always said "There are jerks now, and there will always be jerks. That doesn't mean you have to join them or be around them". That doesn't mean you have to agree with me for me to consider you a friend. Just don't be a jerk.

Now, before the debates I bought another case of Duct Tape. I still have a few rolls. I'll be more than happy to share with you if you still think your head is going to explode.
Amen. I've lost a truckload of friends whom it never dawned on me were racist pinheads until this election. Their hatred didn't gel in '07 because they didn't really believe O would win. Once he did, the fear and hatred and herd instincts took control of their humanity. I see them now as dangerous beasts -- my sister and her husband, among them.
Insightful post Lezlie. You might have responded to the "scary" acquaintance with a reminder of the Tea Partians and the second amendment remedies.

While I've no doubt that much of the animus to Obama from the outset is because he's black, we shouldn't make the mistake of think the opposition would have been much more civil had Hillary been elected. The negative obsession that animated the Republicans in transmuting Whitewater to Lewinsky would have returned in force and we would have been bemoaning the right's hatred of uppity women. Racism isn't the only one of their failings.
One more thing: Anybody who voted for Reagan because they believed the Voodoo economics he proposed can share in the blame for the economic mess we're in today. And if those same people are too dull-witted to understand this, and are so easily led by propagandists for the billionaires who benefited from Voodoo economics at their expense that they'll vote for the Robot even tho they haven't a racist bone in their heads, they deserve the contempt of intelligent people for sullying the term "conservative" with their stupidity.
Cranky: I know what you mean. I was not a fan of Bush II either, but I felt awful when people made fun of him just for the hell of it. And I was able to say, without hesitation, how well I thought he handled himself right after 9/11.

desert_rat: Thanks for the support!

Deborah: You are absolutely right, in my opinion. Civility has taken a back seat in just about every human interaction recently. People think of it as not “keeping it real.”

Myriad: Hate is overtaking the world. It’s sad.

aka: Well said.

PeaDub: Hi! It’s good to see you. I still worry about some kook offing Obama. There is clearly precedent, isn’t there?

Jon: Thanks

Catnlion: Yes, there are anal apertures everywhere, but not since the KKK has there been such a choir of racial hatred. I was very careful not to paint all of you as wanting him gone because he is black. My problem is, it is starting to get more and more difficult to determine who is who. A lot who are motivated by his race (or against it) are not out there spewing racial epithets; they are just so shrill about things that have been proven over and over again to be false, one wonders if it is a cover or if they are that convinced about what they are saying. Either way is frightening.
Since we are friends, I feel I can point out that your example of Carter doesn’t really work. (If I want Obama gone because of his race, why then did I want Carter gone? ) You could have wanted Carter gone for any number of reasons, two of which you mentioned. That doesn’t mean it is impossible for you to want Obama gone for different reasons, one of which could be his race.
Fortunately, I have a fresh roll of duct tape standing by for Monday night, but thanks for the offer. You are a gentleman and a scholar. :D
Chicken Maaan: I’m sorry you’ve lost friends over this, but you have gained many more around here. There is a part of me that thinks go ahead, let them elect Romney, they’ll get what they deserve, but, of course, I come to my senses and realize we’ll get it, too, whether we deserve it or not.

Abra: I’m sure you are right, but the same bigots who despise blacks are the ones who want to relegate women back to the barefoot and pregnant era. That doesn’t make me feel any better, although I do know where you are coming from.
When Senate Majority Leader McConnell say's on Obama's first week in office that his only agenda for the next 4 years is defeating Obama in the next election, didn't he also set the agenda for race relations in this country. I live in the south and even after 40 years, it's sickens me to see the monkey jokes and ape pictures that these bigoted morons send around on their phones and computers. They are afraid to say this out loud, but when you are so stupid, you would vote for a person who is going to cost you money and maybe even kill your kids when the health care runs out, just because a man is black, you do not deserve to vote or have children, or procreate or even have sex with a someone of your own sex. If there is a billionth of an opportunity that they could breed, they should be sterilized.
I come from a family full of ardent Republicans who never said anything much about politics before now. I know for a fact it's because they were completely thrown off balance when they woke up in 2008 to the prospect of an African-American in the Oval Office and that they will do whatever it takes to restore order to their white universe. That's scary to me. I don't get it and I don't want to get it. Good writing, L.
Of course it is racism, and the worse kind: American racism, which is fueled, exaggerated and supported by Evangelicalism. Religion in general, and Christianity in specific, had a major role in diluting racism all over the world, but not in America. The right wing fundamentalists use faith to fuel racism in this country, and faith is a very powerful force. Excellent piece, Lezlie; beautifully written. R
Scanner: I only wish it were only in the South. This thing is happening coast to coast, border to border. Read this comment thread, and anyone can see those of you who are white and not racists are being made acutely aware of the ones around you who are.

nilesite: It must be very hard for you to function in a family like that. Isn’t it interesting how one person out of an entire family can see things from a completely different perspective?

Thoth: I know you are right about the faith component. What I can’t figure out is how they reconcile the messages from Jesus Christ about love and consideration with their unadulterated hatred.
romble is +22% in the old south, so normal racism has re-emerged there, for sure.
I was such a fool. I can remember that brief period of time when I thought after the election that this country had made real progress. Wow, was I wrong. I have lived in the south all my life. I used to think that racism was a product of limited education and experiences. Apparently, it is rampant in all levels of society. The worst part is that it is tolerated by so many in such public ways. John McCain made many errors in his campaign but that crazy woman he stopped and corrected gave him a special place in my heart. I have not seen one single Republican show any attempt to stop or discourage the hate filled signs, rhetoric and threats that their "followers" have expressed. So as long as you have a political party that accepts and tolerates bigotry and racism, we are certainly doomed. I am terrified.
How dare Romney tell Obama to stop talking?! Seriously?! The President of the United States! Same disrespect for Candy Crowley. He has no idea what he revealed about himself when he did that, and with the binders of women comment.

I was glad to see Obama get a little down into the gutter with the Romnesia jokes. He is really funny and Romney is zero funny. Still, Obama was never disrespectful.

As for tearing up some real estate after an election...why was no one threatening to do that after Bush was elected the second time? I could have stomped out three city blocks all by myself!
NEWS FLASH! There is no "one drop rule." "Race" in this country has always been porous and complicated.

Amen. Glad this made the cover.

Do you REALLY believe that the GOP would love and respect Obama if only he were "Aryan" enough? His racial identification (which he adopted, just as Lezlie did) is a WEAKNESS that the GOP ruthlessly exploits. Bill Clinton was also demonized, and any future "white" Democratic presidents will be also. By focusing only on the race-baiting, you make the situation look far less dire than it really is.
I'm an American White Guy now living and working in China. It is nothing short of humiliating at times having to explain to Chinese people what is happening at home. Ordinary Chinese, by and large, love Obama and respect America for electing him. They don't understand why he is in such a nasty fight to get re-elected. They're puzzled as to why he is castigated for trying to get decent access to healthcare for all Americans. (Which many Chinese, by the way, do not have.) They ask me, "Why do so many of your compatriots HATE him so much?" For quite a while I tried to be diplomatic in my response and patiently explained that America is divided about "the role of government" blah, blah, blah. Recently I've just given up. I say, "It's because he's black." It's embarrassing but it's true. On Election Night in '08, I literally wept tears of joy when Obama was elected. I was so proud to be American. I'm 52 and never thought I'd be alive when America elected its first non-White President. Here I am now weeping again. However, my tears are now born of shame and sadness. If Obama loses his re-election bit I can't envision a day when I'll ever be "proud" to be American again. I'll forever consider myself "lucky" to have been born American. But "proud?" Don't think so.
What is telling to me is the almost-universal silence of the supposedly non-racist conservatives and Christian evangelicals in the face of an avalance of obscene, sadistic, and psychopahtic racist outbursts and characterizations. Supposedly they are "good peopole" don't share those ugly racist attiutdes but they almost always refuse to publically denounce them. When that Arizona preacher screamed for Obama's murder and "eternal damnation" from his pulpit, you didn't hear Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, other Christian conservatives, or any GOP official object or reject those views, or express shock or dimsay. This is what makes me suspicious of the motives of almost all conservatives even when deny being influecned by racism. they appear to want to look the other way and pretend not to know what's going on. Actions speak louder than words and the silence of the supposedly "good conservatives" and 'good christians" speaks volumes.
Good white folks are in denial about fifty years of the vile Southern Strategy that has infected countless campaigns. Every Republican candidate for President since Nixon has employed that strategy -- and for that reason alone, I wouldn't vote for any of them. I take some small consolation in the belief that one day -- and sooner rather than later -- that Party will pay a heavy price for that evil.
I completely agree with your reading of the state of the union. Nothing more to say! -R-
Racism in the US is as dead as the Class System in Europe and the UK. When times are good, it is less obvious, but in bad times, the facade drops and we are confronted with just how ugly we can be to one another.

Yes, this election cycle has been toxic to new degree, and I know I am not the only one who knew it would. How could we not know? The past four years have been an exercise in social retrograde. Topics long thought settled have been dug up for renewed scrutiny, and measured by any other political calculus it makes no sense, except a collective knee jerk reaction to a black man being President.

And his policies have not failed. If it can be said there is a God in heaven, Obama's policies have not failed. He has grown the deficit less than any President since Eisenhower, and it breaks my heart to see my family and friends thinking he blew a huge hole in the budget. They won't listen, either. I show them the documentation, the expert analysis, I even quote right-wing economic publications echoing this fact and I am pissing in the wind.

I get a chuckle when my brother calls him a socialist. It offends me, because Obama is not a socialist... I AM!

Still, there must be something wrong with me if you ask my folks. They insist it's not an issue of race, yet Congressman Turzai has gone on the record saying the new voter ID law in PA is intended to hand Romney the Commonwealth, and who does that affect the most?

I know what it is, particularly for white conservatives like my parents. Obama caught a nasty case of Angry Black Man Syndrome in 2004 when he delivered the keynote speech at the DNC that year. He's black, he's charismatic, and he's in a position of power. In their world that makes him a revenge seeking hoodlum.
I live in a town where my neighbors use that "n" word when talking about the president. I have let them know that I don't like it and so now they don't use it in my presence. Being at ground level of it, I've seen all along that race was the reason he is disliked. I irked a lot of people when I said, in 2008, that I was voting for the smart guy.

I had a good moment a few months ago, though, when my neighbor mentioned to me that he had finally heard on the news that Congress was holding up the jobs bill to build roads and bridges. He was flabbergasted to find out it was because they didn't want Obama too look good, that they really didn't care if people were out of work and the economy remained in a decline as long as the current president didn't get a second term. I doubt if I changed his vote, but at least he had a glimmer of understanding.

My area is becoming more integrated though it is a very slow process. I really don't see the attitude in this country changing anytime soon, if this area is any indication of progress. I do what I can, though.
When Romney essentially told the President to "shut up and wait his turn"my first thought was he would never have said that to a white man. Nope, wouldn't have happened. ~r
Lezlie, my comment came out wrong. I'm not sad that I lost the friends, but that people I had thought were friends are in truth feral creatures I can no longer trust. I relate to them now as I would any beast trapped behind bars in a zoo. I'm sad for them and for what they represent, but I keep my distance.
"It has been said about me that I may be black, but I’m not “black enough.” I might be presumed black, because I don’t look white, but I don’t “think black” and I don’t “act black.”

News flash: I AM black, just as the President of the United States IS black. The fact that we have equal amounts of white genes was declared irrelevant centuries ago in America, with the One Drop Rule. That hasn’t changed, especially and profoundly for those of us who cannot pass for white – not that we would want to."


I too have been stuck in the first act of "Showboat." For 65 years!

And you can imagine how helpful my last name has been.
I love going to the malls here in Southern California because the ethnic diversity is complete. You hear so many different languages and see all shades of skin color. It feels good. Great Post, L.
al loomis: It never left.

LSD: I agree about that McCain incident. You have put your finger on something else that has been contributing to my discomfort. Why are all the “other” Republicans not screaming at the tops of their lungs?

greenheron: We would have been a regular axis of terror after the 2004 fiasco, because I was angry enough to put on a one-woman riot myself!

AD Powell: I think you already know that I don’t agree with your point of view. I didn’t have to choose; it was assigned to me, whether you like it or not. For me (or the President) to go around identifying as white is almost as absurd as this statement: "Race" in this country has always been porous and complicated. And you should be ashamed of yourself for this one: His racial identification (which he adopted, just as Lezlie did) is a WEAKNESS that the GOP ruthlessly exploits.

Mime: Thanks

May Pang: You have described my own feelings as well.

Donegal Descendant: I couldn’t agree with you more.

Tom: Denial is a form of mental illness. Unless those who are truly innocent of racial bias get healthy, and fast, you are so right. The price, which will be paid by ALL of us, will be heavy indeed.

ordinaryjoe: Thanks!

V. Corso: Well said.

Stuart: Thank you for your comment. Your last paragraph is powerful.
just Phyllis: I hope your neighbor thinks long and hard about his revelation. That McConnell strategy has cost this nation more than it cares to know.

Joanie: Just like no other President would have been interrupted during his State of the Union address to hear “You lie!” from the audience.

Chicken Maaan: Still, it had to have been disappointing. It has been for me.

David: LOL! I’m sure you’ve had an interesting time with that last name!
Z: The question isn’t whether there is diversity in the population – there clearly is. The question is how those languages and skin shades are regarded by the owners and employees of all those mall businesses. That’s the part that is easy to overlook.
Lezlie, I didn't tell you or the president to identify as "white," but I do protest when people like you try to force a "black" identity on those who are NOT black (mixed white or otherwise) by claiming or implying that there is some kind of "one drop" law that legally requires people to identify as "black" based on "one drop." I notice that you never pull that nonsense on Hispanics, who have "drops" aplenty of the dreaded "black blood." It's YOU who should be ashamed of yourself for promoting and glorifying a doctrine based on the presumed super-inferiority of the ancestry you claim to champion.
I wasn't the one who referred to the President's color as a WEAKNESS.
Great post... A few years ago I had been puzzled why I was hearing such hatred expressed towards our President (here in Arizona) when I regard him as pragmatic and diplomatic to the extreme...but then came to the conclusion that it could ONLY be explained by "repressed" racism. I've seen nothing to discount that theory the past three years... and still fear that it will color the coming election.
The hatred expressed towards the President is by and large of recent vintage. I don't recall ever hearing so much denigrating language when he first ran for office. I suspect that racists didn't expect he'd win. Since he did the gloves are off. The "Birthers" are clearly part of this, as well as Dinesh D'Souza's efforts to turn Obama into an "Angry Negro" stereotype. The problem for Dinesh(outside of the blowback from his recent adulterous romp) is that there's nothing "angry" about Obama, and every sane individual knows it. Likewise the gracious and charming Mrs. Obama -- and their two lovely daughters.

I'm bothered by people who tell you that you identify as Black by choice. I'm afraid that's not the way it works. Minorities are often defined by whomever is persecuting them.

Like you, I'm struck by the profound lack of respect. The "You Lie!" incident stank of racism at the time.

I'm bothered by people who tell you that you identify as Black by choice. I'm afraid that's not the way it works. Minorities are often defined by whomever is persecuting them.

Like you, I'm struck by the profound lack of respect. The "You Lie!" incident stank of racism at the time.

Oh, and congratulations on the EP. Well Deserved.
I'm not sure but I think it may have been Eldridge Cleaver or maybe Malcolm X who said that when it came down to it he'd rather deal with a George Wallace over LBJ, Humphrey or Nixon, because with Wallace, you knew who you were talking to. Regardless of the label they use: " socialist, neocolonialist, foreign, or Un-American," the dog whistles and code words of today's Republican Party ring clear and true and color their choices as "black and white."
Yech. Just the subject line "scary" in that vile email makes me want to throw up. That sort of tactic is blatantly low brow, and obviously was created by someone who is ignorant, uneducated, hateful, and "scary" stupid. I know it's easy to say "don't let idiots like that get you down." Living with that kind of crap day in and day out is another matter. I don't believe in heaven or hell, so I know the racists will never get what they deserve, which is to spend an eternity having "aha" moments as they realize what horrific human beings they were while they walked the planet.

I have so much respect for our president. He is like a lighthouse standing firm against the storm of hatred that is trying to blast him into the water. How any decent human being could support a candidate who plays into that kind of vile behavior is incomprehensible. R.
Wow. I want to quote something for you and for Deborah, just to provide contrast. This is from a comment by Jan Sand on my blog a little while ago. Jan, incidentally, I don't think is coming from a racist place. I think this really is ideologically driven.

He said:
"Obama is expert in administering the tranquilizing drug of hope and the phony pose of frustration with a futile legislature so everybody makes up excuses for this poor beleaguered ineffective president while he casually, almost absentmindedly , renders basic Constitutional guarantees into strips of toilet paper and smiles his beguiling grin that he is doing his best in an impossible situation. Who can get mad at such a handsome man with great kids and a beautiful wife who opens his hands to heaven while behind him his financial friends are plundering the treasury and his military friends are butchering thousands of innocents and creating new armies of people the hate the USA with blood in their eyes and all sorts of wicked thoughts about the dumb Americans who "there, there" their president and encourage him to try a bit harder."

Now, here's Deborah, about the same individual, just now:

"I have so much respect for our president. He is like a lighthouse standing firm against the storm of hatred that is trying to blast him into the water."

Now, these two opinions are about the same guy From The Same Side Of The Political Spectrum! Different degrees of left of center, but both I think left. As am I. As are you.

Jan lives in Finland. I don't think he votes here. He is, by birth and upbringing, American.

I, incidentally, will vote for Obama a second time. (I've actually put in some work on a political campaign for the first time in my life, and it's his campaign.) But he didn't exactly make it easy.
Kosh: AD Powell has a very unusual view.

Deborah: I believe Hell is on Earth. Sooner or later they will get what’s coming to them.

Kosh: I don’t think I agree that Jan Sands is not coming from a racist place. I’m not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He turns a phrase with the best of them, though. As I have written before, ideology alone does not work for me. I’m far more practical than that. When ideology makes a person vote against his or her own best interests, it turns into lunacy.
You are not alone here my dear. I had similar problems some time ago and asked:
I personally think the elections should be fought on the basis of ideologies and not on the basis of skin color, ethnicity or religion. But as a drowning man catches at a straw, a failing party gropes in the dark for whatever it can lay its hands on.
The trouble is thanks to the idiotic schemes of deregulating business our basic industry has been exported for gain through cheap labor abroad. The basic industry used to be a basis for the slogans of "give tax breaks to the rich to help the economy". Now this slogan has become a lie because people know that giving tax breaks to the rich directly translates into helping foreign economies through outsourcing. So the party of the rich has to bring in the Tea Party to “get rid of the foreigner” and all sorts of racial stuff.
You've got it scoped out correctly, L...and you tell it in a way that is easy to understand.

Some people will never be able to acknowledge the truth of some of the damning things you have pointed out, but that is the way humans work.

My guess is most humans have had moments of prejudice...and I hope most of us are embarrassed and sorry for those moments. But the kind of thing I see happening this election...and the way it is being handled by people who should know better...is disheartening.

Hope we all get beyond this. Essays like this can help us do so.
It has been consistently disturbing to me that the the sheer racist behavior exhibited by the right and their Captain Willard Romney has not met with outrage from the media. We know why. The last debate had me throwing my fist at the TV screen. I'm a pacifist and wanted to punch Romney when he had the unmitigated gaul and audacity to get right into our Presidents face! We cannot forget, that outfits like Dick Cheney's Halliburton did big business in apartheid South Africa. This is the legacy of the right and Romney has followed suit by showing his sexism and racism. Dispicable.
What I hate is when powerful media networks like CNN "legitimize" candidates from the opposition just so they can have a horse race to keep the other 50% watching. Apparently it's not sporting, nor profitable to do the right thing by never giving a guy like Mitt air to breathe in the first place. Republicans deserve no mercy. They are like a fungus which must be thoroughly eradicated, lest it begin growing again. I'm smack dab in the midwest, and I'm 100% certain that the "Just Tell Obama NO" stickers plastered on many vehicles is because Obama is black...and for none other reason. Do people think 4 years is enough to kill a cancer ridden fungus? No. You have to keep going. It will take 20 plus years of Democratic presidents and congress to begin eliminating these ignorant humans amongst us. Like the movie Conrack in the old south...they literally have to die off. There is no other way.
this is an excellent piece and an eye-opener for those who have not seen and heard what is going on during this time of election.
Please give me a link to the duell you were referring to.
The hatred ,coming from the conservatives' whites,

can be grasped blind-eyed.
Mitt Romney ,in my opinion,is a weak man and should not become president.Then we will have the same situation as with Bush II.
The USA have suffered many sacfrifices,and with Romney, there will be more to come,until the country is at the brink of ruin.
As for the disrespect for Obama in his position as President,a law suit should have been be filed against M.Romney.
I second Toritto.
Bravo to you and Chauncey.

I'm not going to defend Jan in this case because I don't know his motivations and you've had plenty of experience with him. In all fairness, I'm quoting him without permission in this context, though what he said was absolutely public record. All I will say is that, in this case, this is not an accusation I am personally prepared to make.
As perhaps the whitest man alive (english, german, scottish)
I say: i gotta agree with you indeed.
I have been a big politics-watcher all my life
and i have never seen the arena so full of snakes and vipers
as these days. The Earthquake of the O8 Obama election
shifted the landscape forever, thank a merciful God...
but rocks were dislodged,
and monsters crawled out into the light.

To wither and die, let us pray.
Oh, amen, sister. And I'm about as Teutonically white as they come. The poison won't be gone November 7, but I pray the jackanapes (jackanapeses?) will be crying in their toxic tea another four years.

Muhammad: That’s the problem with conservatives in general; they don’t want to change with the times. Thanks for your comment.

Frank: Thanks, Frank. I know I have had my moments, but I keep trying to view each individual through a clear lens.

IceRune: I don’t think I will ever forget that look on Romney’s face when he glared at the President. It gives me chills.

Aristoxenus: The die-off is slowed because these types raise children, some of whom buy what their parents are selling. That’s how it is perpetuated.

Heidi: Here is a link to the complete debate: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/10/17/us/politics/20121017-second-presidential-debate-obama-romney.html#/?annotation=4702e64cc

James: Well put. Snakes and vipers, indeed.

Jett: Let us all pray for that.
From the "White side" I can testify that there has been a huge return of the old "checking out behaviors'- the warnings to "watch what you say before him", the smiling "best buddies" I never knew coming over to tell a new story of a Black man who committed some crime on the news, or a joke that is not only racist but disgusting racist, and the return of "them" and "they"; the smug assertion that the speaker "knows them". And of course the ridiculous increase in firearms sales for "personal" defense. You can see the reflexive smiles and drinking when Fox or Romney use the right triggers.
Kenneth: I really appreciate your candor on this topic. There are many who don't want to see it for what it is. As soon as times get a little harder, we become "them" and "you people" once again. You probably can imagine how disappointing that is for someone like me.
This is a very much needed post, as we, as a people, have not dealt with our racial history very well at all. I know Europeans who can not understand this, even when I try to explain how ingrained this strain is in our cultural DNA. We must fight, deal with it. It is a serious weakness that some felt eclipsed when our President won. I felt hope -- but knew, doubted, that we grew that much.
The one thing that we have done in raising kids, is in telling them that it is expected that you engage all kinds of kids -- all are welcome here.
And imperfect fathers, like me, are heartened to see them treat other kids as a friend, no matter how they appear. It is a long, tough fight, one that can not be won alone. This I do know.
Thank you for your candor and insightful piece. R>>>>>>>>>>>
Excellent post, Lezlie. I couldn't read this without thinking of your recent post with the picture of the little boy touching Obama's hair. The juxtaposition of the two posts is heartbreaking.
Seer: Your eloquent comment almost blew me away. I can’t tell all of you how good it feels to have some of you validate my concern with such candor. I am proud to have you and many others on this thread and on this site to stand beside me. Beside each other is where we are supposed to walk.

inthisdeepcalm: I agree with you about our kids. They came along at a time when all of us were required to at least pretend to be inclusive, and they learned their lessons well. Not all kids, though. Not by a long shot.

jlsathre: Your comment tells me you really get it. Thank you.
I'm with you 100%. It boggles my mind why anyone who is not super-rich and has no inclination towards social justice would vote for Romney. I find his smirking, entitled-white-kid bullying revolting. I'm concerned because he is apparently leading in the swing state polls and if he wins I fear we (those of us who are not the 1%) are burnt toast.
I, too, was completely shocked by Romney's rudeness to Obama -- his superior attitude exuded from him as he attempted railroading and my thoughts of him changed from: "There's ol' Mitt the Shit again, as he was called in Massachusetts by non-thrilled constituents to "Oh my god, the guy is racist!"
Sickening election cycle.
Thanks so much for your thoughts.

An aside: I had three black co-workers and friends in Atlanta in mid-80s who had all come from, grown up in, Chicago and Wisconsin. To a person, they stated that they preferred the South as the racism in Wisconsin and Chicago was so hidden behind politeness and veiled words that it drove them crazy, the ground shifted too easily. I've never forgotten their opinions of the North and preferring the South for being able to at least recognize the racists better -- it shook me to the core. I'd witnessed a racial stabbing in my high school, an attack on my next door neighbor for dating a black boy, so much more (and so much less than what others have witnessed)....it never occurred to me that veiled prejudices were worse for them than blatant ones -- they said they knew what to avoid when it's blatant.
I still get depressed when I think of that conversation.
Reading comments....
I have to disagree with with Thoth's broad sweep of calling all "Evangelicals" as racists. Yes some, plenty, are -- the noisy ones certainly seem to be -- but it is just not accurate that all Evangelicals are racists.
I'm not Evangelical, or even a mainstream Christian (although I am Christian), but if we are to be vigilant that one kind of group is not to be labelled, painted as everyone thinking/being/acting all one way, then it must be noted when another group is labelled inaccurately.

I get why one might think all Evangelicals are racist -- or white -- but that is bias also to say they all are -- that's just not true: Evangelicals are not all white, not all necessarily racist either.
divorcedpauline: I am genuinely fearful for the future of the country if he wins. That is not to say I won’t be fearful if Obama wins, but I just think we’ll have a better chance of getting ourselves back on track with him at the helm.

JT: Your friends were correct about their feelings that the South was easier to navigate for a black person than the north was, at least at the time. (60s, 70s, 80s) I don’t think there is a more segregated American city than Chicago was (possibly still is.) We developed a habit of asking our parents questions like “Are we allowed there?” when planning to go to a new restaurant or night club or what have you. But, since the north was all I knew, I didn’t often encounter flat-out, vocal racism. I can’t say that I prefer one way over the other – they both suck the life out a real person who is not just a caricature or a reference on an email.

I didn't read Thoth's reference to Evangelicalism the way you did, but I'll let him clarify what he meant, if he returns.
A friend's Facebook status this past week:

"Alright, alright, I'm voting for Mickey Mouse already. So will all his supporters please stop contacting me, and telling me how great he is, and about all his accomplishments, and how hard it was for him to get ahead in our anti-Mouse society? I mean, it seems a little silly, now that he's the most powerful, most famous Mouse in the world."
I live in the smallest state by population in the US, probably at least 99% white. I can assure you, extreme prejudice is live and well in this Red State. It was apparent to me, the minute O was elected that these folks HATED the fact that a black person was their president. It could only have been worse if it had been a black woman.

Were I to express my true feelings, I'm sure I'd end up with at least a black eye. All I have to say is Michelle '16!
Obama's presidency has been like a chemical reaction to the different factions of people of America. Some of us were thrilled, just at the notion of this brilliant black man wanting to be president, and then being qualified, being recognized as such and being such an inspiring speaker and visionary. And some Americans were to put it mildly, less than thrilled. And some were somewhere in the middle.

From my vantage point, his campaign and subsequent election brought out the best in this country, our deepest hopes that he could and would lead us as a good president. And that this was the real beginning of the end of racism.

I gotta tell you Lezlie, that I worked for the first time as a poll worker at the last presidental election in a working class city with a lot of mixed races. It was inspiring and beautiful and I cried all damned day as did most all of us - the workers and the good people there to vote. Even the republicans were impressed with the turnout and the energy. One presumably Republican woman laughed and said her vote was pointless. People were lined up around the block a few times long before the polls even opened and it was freezing that morning in the north east.

I think we assumed (and I'm speaking as an older white woman who demonstrated and worked for civil rights from the time I was a young teenager in the times of "freedom buses") and secretly hoped President Obama would be even better than we imagined he'd be. He is a human being but there's a lot of aspiration and dreams wrapped around this man and his beautiful family.

He is a good president in impossible times. Probably a better president than I give him credit for. He can't fix everything and he can't be all things. He can do what he can do with his own personality and humanity and with a congress determined to destroy him, as I've never seen done to any other president except Bill Clinton.

I believe with all my heart Obama should be addressing this racism as it's being done to him but he may feel it's not his job to address every single thing, although I think in THIS case, he's wrong not to. Perhaps provoking him is exactly what these scumbags want to do. And perhaps for the sake of his daughters he chooses not to.

I think for the sake of the country, he should have and should now. I think he's the man, the President regardless of HIS color. He should have been making the country look at it from the first watermelon and witchdoctor sign to calling a sitting president a "liar" aloud at the SOTU address, etc.
The current occupant of the White House is a war criminal. Nothing negates that.

Not only has he committed crimes, himself, that make him eligible for criminal prosecution at the the Hague, but his refusal to prosecute those who preceded him, also qualifies him to be tried in the Hague.

Have none of you read the Geneva Conventions, of which america is a signatory?

I voted for him the first time, so this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with race - it is a matter of morals and justice.

He deserves all the disdain that can be heaped upon any man. If the public is unwilling to see the crimes he commits on a daily basis and elects him, I will work as fervently as I worked the first time to get him elected, to see him impeached, if re-elected.

He has, also gutted the Constitution, but none of that matters to those who prefer to make this appear to be about race.
The slight error in Chauncey's thinking, and yours, is that racism is driving Republican craziness. The craziness was coming anyway, in some form, because the GOP-conservatives are following a historically well-established trajectory. It was worse this year than in 08, which was worse than 04. So, it's the craziness that's driving the racism.

If we had President Hillary, the racist ranting wouldn't be personal, it would be directed at policies favoring those lazy black folk. With Obama, it's both personal and policy and, as under Any Democratic President -- a product of gullibility, imagination, GOPropaganda and willful, wishful ignorance.

You're a boorish political wannabe with a one-note screech and dense routine. You will work to impeach Obama? Yeah, Mark, you're a force. Already your work has convinced maybe 50-100 people of absolutely nothing, politically speaking, and too much, personally. You're so good at bringing people to The Cause we should put you (and libby) in charge of recruiting voters for the GOP. Within a year, there would be no Republican Party.
BOKO: Clever.

plantlover: I have always wondered what it was like in Wyoming. Thanks for your enlightening comment.

Foolish Monkey: I actually understand why the President does not and will not address the racism he isw fighting in this campaign. If you will recall, the one and only time he called foul on the unfair arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates on the porch of his own home, he was vilified for being biased. I think he rightly decided that he has to maintain certain neutrality on the subject in order to retain whatever credibility he has as the leader of the free world. He must stay above the pettiness, however toxic, in order to function effectively. Imagine what the trolls would make of The Angry Black Man in the White House.

However, if the worst happens and he loses, that’s when I think he should start talking, loudly and clearly, because he will have the advantage of a still-relevant bully pulpit. Just my two cents.

markinjapan: If you are willing to allow that one issue to throw your vote to Romney – the man who will destroy every social advancement made in the U.S. in the past 75 years, go for it.

Paul: The craziness allows those who were once afraid to show their racism before now to parade it openly, in front of God and everybody. True.
L in the Southeast: Really truly and absolutely awesome to see you are still posting on this site. I have been having a ton of problems with this site, technically speaking. Each time I try to come back it gets worse. Hitting most buttons will make it crash into "unrecognized error" messages.

As for the other poster who made a comment quoting Jan in which he made a comment somewhere along the lines of "Obama is peddling false hopes, while his friends in finance loot, and his friends in the military kill" was (unless I am missing other more racist comments elsewhere) basically spot on.

His cabinet members are all finance, enacting policy by finance, for finance and solely focused on looting what little we the people have left, and his friends in the military industrial complex do their thing. I know this is a tough sell for a lot of people, but I really don't believe Obama is powerless in this whole thing.

I think the President's job is to use the office as a bully pulpit, and that the old standby of "voting for the candidate that does the least damage" is what both parties are depending on. We need a real left in this country or we as a country, and maybe as a society and even a species, may be toast.
Leslie said:
"I wasn't the one who referred to the President's color as a WEAKNESS."

It IS a weakness that his political enemies exploited. In the same way, among the people you claim as your own, it is considered a strength (Actually, it is black identification rather than his "color" that has been the weakness for Americans who don't claim to be "black."). There are plenty of people who are just as dark as Obama or darker who would never identify as "black." You know very well that when you encounter Hispanics and Arabs who obviously have African ancestry, you take pains to not "insult" them by mentioning it.
I have been completely and utterly revolted by American politics since the Clinton "impeachment" proceedings. That lurid debacle clued me in to the fact that politics are indeed dirty business. What with my spotless presentation, I don't care to be exposed to shrieking, mud-flinging power mongers.

My solution: stop watching TV and vote straight Democratic. I may not learn all the details on the issues but frankly, I don't care to sift through truckloads of BS to find them.