SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2009       Personal Memory Ethnographies


Under Black Leadership

I was raised in a middle class neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the only home I knew until I got married and moved out. I never really gave too much thought to the ethnic background in my school or my community. I saw the same familiar faces at school from year to year and considered everyone my friend. Race and gender were never a factor. I have always been the girl whose parents are still together among friends with single parents. My best friend through elementary school was black, her mom was white and I never asked why. I was raised to think that everyone is equal and deserves what they are willing to work hard for. I never faced any confrontation or obstacles in which racism or prejudice was a main point, which is why I was so taken back with the events leading up to and after the election of President Barrack Obama.

When I first heard Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention I thought that he was a great speaker and represented a lot of good. However, I did not agree with his political views as much as I agreed with John McCain. I have never agreed or disagreed with Obama’s views just because he is Black. It was frustrating to hear prominent black leaders such as Al Sharpton and others say that those people who disagree and do not want Obama as our President are racist. I could not help but take what they would say personally especially since I viewed it as a personal attack on my beliefs. Also, when members of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid referred to protesters and other attending tea party gatherings as Nazi’s and disgruntled Republicans, that really stirred up emotions of frustration and anger that I had never felt before.

I believe the moment I began feeling anger and resentment was shortly after Barack Obama was elected president. Being that I was raised not to judge people by the color of their skin but by their character, I was willing to give our newly elected president a chance to enact the policies of change that he had campaigned on. This also being the first presidential election in which I could vote provided me with a sense of optimism. As he began to explain how he planned to shore up the nations economy and reform healthcare it became clear that his methods of change did not match my political stance on those issues. Despite my disagreement I was still willing to see how his plans would unfold. It was only when some prominent members of Congress began to label those who opposed his policies as radicals, and disgruntled right- wingers. I do not consider myself to be a disgruntled right-winger or any of the other derogatory labels being used. I immediately felt a stunned by the reaction to the opposition and then it grew into anger.

When Obama spoke of Change and listing the reforms that he wanted to make, for the first time in a long time, I felt energized and took an active role in the political arena in support for Barrack Obama. Working as a pastor in a church and working mostly with people of the lower socioeconomic level, I have witnessed how the burdens of earning a living have increased over time. With the election of our new president and the reforms that he wants to institute has I have given as well as the voices that have not been heard for so long the opportunity to be heard. I believe that much of the opposition is due to the fact that political winds have changed and that the voices of the true majority are now being heard. I feel that it is for this reason that most of the opposition to Obama’s reforms are racially based. ... It is of my opinion that the opposition consists of mainly hate groups and those that want to continue the oppression of the poor minorities.

Then as I began to was the news and saw the reaction to the tea party town hall meeting. I not only became extremely angry but also disheartened by the possibility that my right to expression was being trampled by the very administration that promised openness. I began hearing that those opposed to Obama’s plans were doing so due to racial prejudices and not legitimate political reasons. For the first time in my young life I felt a certain degree of hopelessness in that those that are elected to represent the citizens of this country really have no interest in doing so and will push forth there own agenda regardless of what I or the rest of the people have to say! The more I watch the news the angrier I become. It is now at a point that I stop watching the news and look forward to the 2010 elections to see if those who continue to perpetuate stalemate will be replaced by leaders who will truly represent me.

Blacks have had equal rights for many years. I did not live in times of slavery or civil rights, but I did learn about it in history. As I have said before, I grew up in a family in which I was taught that people can get as far as they are willing to work for. Nothing is free; we have to work for what we want. This is partly why I get aggravated when people of color or different ethnicities say that they cannot get what they want just because of their race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, there are people that are raised to believe that blacks and other ethnic groups are not equal and do not deserve the freedoms that they have. Although racism still exists today, it is based on the way in which people are raised, not on experiential knowledge. I do not feel that I am anyone’s obstacle to get where they want in life if they are willing to work hard for it.

There will always be those that do not agree with Obama because he is black, but for Democrats and other Obama supporters to insinuate that the majority of the people that do not agree with the Presidents plan oppose him due to race and not substance offends me as a citizen of the United States. I personally want to see reform in health care and other areas and would never wish to see our President fail. However, I feel disenfranchised by the way the media and many political leaders resort to any opposition to Obama’s reforms as racial based. It is obvious that race was not an issue at the time of the election or Obama would not have gotten the support that he received. Obama was elected on the mantra of change. Now that his reforms are being debated in a public forum, many including myself, do not agree with the way he is attempting to enact these reforms. In order to unify change he listens to the people and not the political pun dents that label opposition racist or radical.

My husband and most of the people I associate with are African American and share the same political viewpoint. For many years I have felt disenfranchised due to the lack of my voice being heard by the Political people that have been in power for the last eight years. I feel that most of the decisions made have been made to benefit the upper-class when middle and lower class people fell behind.

It disturbingly appears that our first amendment rights to free speech and expression are being limited by the negative labels being used by supporters of the Obama administration. With the attempt of the White House excluding a major news network from a major press conference, I feel that they are contradicting any claims in which they state that any opposition to Obama’s politics is not due to the race of the President. Although Obama has not come out and directly said that he feels the opposition is because he is black, it has clearly been stated by other members of Congress and members of the Democratic party with only few contradictory rebuttals from the White House. It is sad and discouraging for my political involvement in the future when so many feel that there only option is to make it an issue of race rather than an issue of the politics at hand.


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