Growing up in a small, tightly knit Mormon community in Utah during the 1950s and 60’s didn’t provide much cultural diversity. In fact, to my knowledge we didn’t have a single Mexican in town, and there wasn’t an African American around that I knew of for hundreds of miles, probably all the way to Salk Lake City, 200 miles to the north. I don’t remember any overt racism, it didn’t occur in my home or among my friends or even teachers. But there was this one thing I remember; the children’s rhyme, eeny meeny miny moe. which went on to say…catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollers, let him go, eeny meeny miny moe. (I promise that’s the last time I’ll use that word here.)
My childhood and pre-adolescent games of hopscotch, jacks, pick-up stix and nursery rhymes evolved into an awkward adolescence, and my interest in such childish things was upstaged by boys and dates, dances and hayrides, proms and broken hearts – both inflicted and received. I’d never thought about the eeny meeny rhyme again until the day I heard my own young girls gleefully using a much softer, gentler version than the one I’d learned all those years ago. Their version replaced the “n” word with "tiger". They were born and raised in California, and also Mormon, just for reference. But I thought to myself, now what a cute image that conjures, compared to the other version, huh? I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate to tell them how that rhyme had been taught to me in Utah. I eventually did, and as I knew they would be, they were shocked. It was difficult for them to imagine anyone using that word ever for any reason and not think anything of it. I must admit when I first learned the rhyme, I don’t think I even knew what the word meant, since in mostly white Utah, I had no frame of reference.
I don’t know how the kids in Utah are taught that rhyme today. I hope that word has been erased from their culture in every form and that it’s been replaced in the rhyme with tiger. But based on much of what I see and hear coming from Republicans there, I’m a little afraid that the seeds of racism still exist, whether some know it or not. I’m not just picking on Utah, I know the deep South may even be worse, I just have personal experience there. I can’t help but feel, some of those deep strands of racism still exist today which were planted well over 150 years ago when the Mormon Church settled in the Salt Lake Valley, and based on scripture and supposed divine guidance from God, denied blacks the same blessings of the church that it promised every other race.
Even after the great Republican President Abraham Lincoln fought to end slavery which resulted in the Civil war, equality for blacks in America was proving elusive. It didn’t come for another 100 years and only through the efforts of such greats as Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and of course, John F. Kennedy, who in early 1963 gave a speech where he called for,
"giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments," as well as "greater protection for the right to vote."
Later that year on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. The Civil rights bill he championed did pass, and it was signed into law and enacted on July 2, 1964. But it wasn’t for more than a decade later, in 1978 that the Mormon Church, withdrew the ban they had placed on blacks which had denied them the same privileges of membership afforded white members (or to my knowledge, any other race but black.) Much of the rest of the country (except again for maybe the deep south) was moving forward, and the famous words by Dr. Martin Luther King’s were finally being realized:
“I dream of a day that a man is judged based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.”
I realize that many people reading this will be offended. I’ve heard it often before that disliking President Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin. I'd like to believe them. What I don’t get is why no one can answer why, this particular president frightens them so? They may say they would swear on a bible they don’t have a racist bone in their body. What they don’t seem to realize however, is the leaders of their party, and some of the more radical radio and TV personalities, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the crew at Fox news, are poisoning minds against Obama with little or no evidence to support anything they are accusing him of. So where does their ire and distrust of him come from?
The only logical conclusion one can come to is, if his skin were white, their attacks on him would not be so brutal. The unfortunate by-product of such covert racism seems to be that vulnerable people who don’t have a racist bone in their body might get caught up in all the other hateful rhetoric being streamed night and day via TV, radio and right-wing internet blogs like The Drudge Report, and they believe it as fact because the source the information is coming from says it with such power and conviction. They obviously won’t admit if they have ties to the Arian nation, white brotherhood or any white supremacists group. They simply plant the seeds of hate in unsuspecting citizens looking for a cause to fight for, and the fear grows for the intended target – in this case Barack Hussein Obama. They don’t know for certain why they fear that black man in the white house leading the free world, but they were told before he took office he would destroy America if he got in, that he would turn us into a Socialist Society simply because he wanted to overhaul our health care system to provide quality, affordable health care to all, and level the playing field so all the tax breaks and perks aren't just going to the richest Americans, but also a share to those upon whose backs those fortunes were made. They feared he would take away their guns and strip them of their Constitutional freedoms. This video from Jon Stewart and the Daily Show is quite a humorous take on this very thing.
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Bulls#%t Mountain: Episode I – The Phantom Menace|
Four years later after nothing of the sort happened, conservatives are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to the Citizens United ruling approved by the conservative Supreme Court, to buy the election for Mitt Romney. That’s how afraid these white men are – Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson the billionaire Casino mogul, and the Billionaire Koch Brothers who own oil, gas and chemical companies, are funneling millions to Romney because that Black man, President Barack Obama, born to a white woman from Kansas and an African American man from Kenya now sits in a house they believe is reserved for privileged white men only.
President Obama is successfully completing his first legendary term as president without the help of any Republicans. And is preparing for his second term, providing the election isn’t stolen out from under him through the efforts of the same Tea Party backed groups that helped Republicans take over many state governments and Congress in the 2010 mid term elections. They are at it again working to create irrational fear with totally unfounded lies. These groups have been working tirelessly since then to not only outlaw abortion (or make it nearly impossible in some states) but they also concocted clever schemes to stiffen voter requirements, to try and make it harder for some citizens to vote in the 2012 election – primarily in areas where Blacks and Hispanics live. Why would they do that, you ask? Because minorities often vote Democratic.
People who have been victims of social injustice tend to gravitate to more fair minded candidates and they learn over time that Democrats always fight for social justice, whether it be compassionate immigration reform, gay rights, civil rights or women’s reproductive rights. And now it's as if we’ve almost come full circle back to the Jim Crow days of cross burnings on lawns, lynching of black men, militia’s arming themselves for protection against the enemy they see only in their mind. And now we’re seeing voter suppression efforts in record numbers being systematically coordinated to disenfranchise, potentially tens of thousands of voters this election year, because some white men, and a few powerful white women, like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin (and as much as I dislike using the word powerful in the same sentence as her name) Ann Coulter.
Then there are the behind the scenes guys funding all this nonsense and coordinating the talking points and marching orders for Republican politicians to go spew at their conventions and fundraisers. Dick Army from Freedom Works and good ol' Karl Rove, traveling around in their buses pretending to be grass roots organizers. When in reality, they are highly skilled magicians gambling with their Super Packs and their dishonest pledge to “SAVE AMERICA FROM OBAMA”. But what they are really gambling for is to get Mitt Romney elected president so, as the rich and elite, they can get their money back many times over. Mitt is a business man, and he has promised to protect their interests first before he does a thing for you and me. But you won’t hear it put like that from him, or his talking heads. They will sugar coat it to sound like Obama has failed miserably and another four years will be disastrous and that only he, Mitt Romney (or anyone that's not Obama) can save us.
So I'd like to ask my many Republican (or libertarian, as so many like to call themselves) especially my Mormon, or even ex-Mormon friends and family from Utah, (and anyone else reading this) why do you hate President Obama so much, but are unwilling to listen to facts when they are offered to you? For instance one statement I heard, my grandma is dying because of the changes Obama made to Social security through the Affordable Care Act. (TRUTH: The only change made to Social Security so far cut the price of prescriptions.) Or, I’ll now have to give up my insurance and buy government insurance instead which will cost me so much more. (TRUTH: If you have insurance already you can keep it.) Or, Obama’s gun laws are taking away our second amendment rights. (TRUTH: Which is always a puzzler since under president Obama gun rights have expanded – onto Amtrak trains and into National parks.) Oh, and that one about, he’s taking away freedom of religion? Please, I have all night, I want you to explain in clear simple terms, with facts, (I can check, you know) how he’s doing that.
My intent for writing this is not to offend anyone. But I’m sure I did. At this point, I don’t much care anymore. The truth is, many people have failed to even examine or explore what the significance is of having the first Black President of the United States. A black family living in a house that slaves built. And then from there, exploring what he has actually done in his first term in office, despite such obstructionism that was the Republican goal from the beginning. They simply wanted to make Barack Obama a one term president and if the American people had to suffer to accomplish that, then so be it.
The fact that he didn’t fail, or blunder in any way, or make our economy worse off (which he didn’t) or take us into another war, or take away your guns (I don’t own one) and that he began the process of creating a system that offers affordable health care to all so that people don’t die for lack of coverage, or get cut from benefits because they’ve reached a lifetime max. You may not like that he signed into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for Women, and if you don’t, ask yourself why? You may not like that he overturned Don’t ask Don’t Tell in the military so gay soldiers no longer have to lie to serve our country. But when that policy was in place, serving with honor was a contradiction, because troupes promised to always tell the truth, but when it came to the essence of who they are, they were being asked to lie. There have been no repercussions in the military since DADT was overturned. So if you’re mad about that, again, ask yourself why.
President Obama has been tough where he needed to be tough, and he’s always been respectful, like the hyped up story of when he bowed to the Saudi Prince. I suppose President Bush walking arm in arm with Saudi elites is okay though.
This is an important election for many reasons, but I just can’t get past the idea, that the racism that flared up in our country with the election of Barack Obama, can only be healed by allowing him four more years so those who don’t believe they are racist, but hate Obama anyway, can try and get to the heart of why they dislike him so much. Perhaps with that, some healing can occur. But at this time in our history, to put a Mormon man, Mitt Romney, in the white house, with such a long and devout history to what was once a very racially bigoted church, will take our country back to a darker time, and I fear it will thwart any healing of racial wounds – healing that I believe will only be possible if we hold on to this current president for FOUR MORE YEARS.
So if you are yet undecided as to who you will vote for this election, do this. Repeat the eeny meeny miny moe rhyme both ways. Think which one of the presidential candidates would be more likely to have used the one that doesn’t use tiger. And then imagine the strength it's taken our current Commander In Chief to rise above the political hate that his been thrown his way from day one, to try and do what's right and noble for the country anyway. Think of the man who now spends his time in the oval office working tirelessly every day for you and me so that we not only have a healthier planet for future generations, but healthier human beings who won't simply die for lack of health care. Even despite the horrible racism he’s had to endure throughout his life, and more recently, the dramatic uptick in racism since his election, he has proven time and again, that he cares deeply for all of us, regardless of race, color, creed, gender or economic status.