As in a tasty mix of talk

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stupid Is a Four-Letter Word... No, Wait, that's Fear

by Guest Blogger Nikky Slocum, Louisville, KY

I am NOT Stupid.

I just watched the acceptance speech for the democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama. In this year of 2008, when I have experienced many personal hardships, I once again feel a fire burning deep within my soul. Yes, it was just a speech, delivered by a man, but America, it was a black man with a powerful message and I could feel his passion coming through my television and burning right into my soul.

At this moment, after midnight, I write this never being more proud to be an American, a Democrat, and a Woman. Already people are calling, writing, and blogging like myself, and some are saying, “Yeah it was a nice speech, but that’s all it was, a speech.”

Do you mean to tell me, America, that you have had me entrust my beloved country for the last eight years to a man who cannot put together two words in a grammatically correct sentence… yet tonight, already, some are telling me I am dumb or young for buying into Barak’s “pretty” speech. Don’t insult my intelligence. I get it. I understand it was a speech to inspire us, and that’s just what it did.

Now the Republicans’ job is to continue dividing the Democratic Party. They have perfected this method of politicking over the last eight years. Divide and conquer is the oldest strategy in the world. They are using Hillary, the woman I voted for in the Primary, a great, strong Democratic woman for whom I have the greatest admiration and respect, to spin the media that all women who were going to vote for Hillary are now going to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. They need to divide Democrats to win the vote.

Fellow American women, we are not as DUMB as Republicans think we are. I have faith we can rise above their strategy, call it for what it is, and walk into that booth on election day and vote where our hearts take us… because we are not weak. I voted in the Democratic Primary loving BOTH of these candidates, believing they both held the same beliefs and were passionate about the same ideals as I am, knowing full well that I would vote for whoever won the nomination. The Republican spin is that the only people who are “buying” into Obama’s speeches are either YOUNG or DUMB. Well, I am a 36 year old CPA and the single mother of two young boys, and I AM NOT FALLING FOR IT. I am not stupid.

Now let’s talk about FEAR
Face it, a lot of people fear O’Bama because he is black. Hate to state it so clearly, but I call it like I see it. These people have deep-rooted racism embedded in their souls and are not strong enough to stand up and admit when they are wrong or go against the people who instilled this fear in their hearts. Otherwise, they already would have done so. I think they are lost. We can only hope their children will be stronger than they have been.

Fear of differing religious beliefs... I say to this fearful group one fragment of a sentence: separation of church and state. Don’t tell me what religion to practice and I promise not to force mine upon you.

Fear that change will ACTUALLY be realized… because O’Bama is young and idealistic and passionate. Companies have entire training sessions to deal with employees going through changes within their corporations. Books have been written about accepting change (i.e. Who Moved My Cheese) and people who are not accepting of it are left floundering behind.
We need to walk together, face our fears, and come together again as ONE nation. Those who cannot embrace change and move forward need to get the HELL out of our way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Their Place

The time was not long ago. Even if you were born after it curled into a ball in a corner of history, it still reaches for you. If it cannot touch you directly, it reaches you by touching those you know, or depend on or love.

With skinned knees and messy braids, I escaped this ugly time. But I sometimes hear it breathing behind me, insinuating that I belong to it. I do not. But I will never put it to rest. Only my children, and their children, can break free from it completely. Look at my white skin. It burns when I remember.


As the civil rights movement heats up, Life magazine educates American readers on the torturous passage from slavery to the ghetto. I turn the pages of the article and the backs of my retinas recoil from the photographic images… are they real? White men have lined up to pose for the camera, holding shotguns on their shoulders. Proudly they display a black man on his knees, trussed to a yoke. He is dead. His skin is crackled, hanging in shreds. He has been burned alive. Like big game hunters with a kill, the men stare into the camera and smile proudly. This can’t be possible, I think. This lynching happened after the camera had been invented, not hundreds of years ago. I feel sick. The horrific image follows me into my nightmares.


“How can you be in favor of integration?” the boyfriend of my best friend in high school demands to know. “They’re human beings,” I tell him. “They have a right to the same freedoms as every other American.” He shakes his head and stares at me with pitying eyes. “You are so ignorant,” he says. “Don’t you know that colored people aren’t human?”


Now I am carpooling to work for my first job. We are discussing the number one topic of the day, school bussing as an antidote to de facto segregation. The driver this week is a man in his late thirties, the father of three small children. “I am not a bigot,” he insists. “I like colored people just fine, as long as they stay in their place.” I tell him that’s what everyone says who wants to cling to their prejudices without feeling guilty. “You might as well say that if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile,” I tell him. He is silent for a moment. “They will,” he says.


My family sits transfixed in front of the television. Detroit is in flames. In a banner headline, today’s newspaper says simply, “Burn, Baby, Burn!”

“First Watts and now this,” my father says. “Where is this going to end?”

“But Dad,” I say, “maybe the only way they can get their rights is to demand them. Wouldn’t you feel like burning down the ghetto if you had to live in it because you’re white? Haven’t you always taught us that all people are the same beneath the color of their skin?”

My father looks worried. “Well, sure, we’re all equal,” he says. “But I don’t want them moving into our neighborhood.”

“What? Daddy, don’t you believe in brotherhood, like you always taught us?”

My father doesn’t meet my eyes as he says, “Yes, but I don’t want our property values to drop.”


These ugly times, along with other events like witch-burnings and public hangings, seem far in the past, relics of eras we have since transcended. But I remember the ironic twist that propelled us into a more righteous future. After the fires burned out in Detroit and the embers stopped smoking and the politicians climbed down from their soapboxes, no one, ever again, said they liked colored people as long as they stayed in their place. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to say, “Hallelujah!” The hate and fear and guilt of yesterday’s racism simmer in the dark corners of our collective subconscious.

Somebody turn on the lights.