Friday, March 9, 2012

I cried my last tears yesterday (reprised)

As we witness the hate exploding around us, I think it's important to remember that this is nothing new to this country. And it's certainly not new to an Obama campaign. What follows below is something I wrote about four years ago during a very similar situation. Re-reading it this week helped ground me. So I thought I'd share it again with you.

I must admit that this has been a hard week for me. As if the collapse of the global economy weren't enough, we've witnessed a presidential campaign successfully stir up the hatefulness that lies underneath the veneer of our so-called "color-blind" society.

I decided that it was time to take a tour of the diversosphere to see what they were saying about all of this. The condemnation of the McCain/Palin strategy was not that different from what I read in the rest of the progressive blogoshere. But I did find something that was amazing and just what I needed...a reservoir of strength and determination.

For most people of color, this election is about a struggle they've been fighting for generations. The fact that it engenders hatefulness is nothing new to them. They've been dealing with it their whole lives. And now, just when we are about to cross one of the most significant milestones in our nation's history, they are not about to be intimidated. To get an idea of what's at stake, just look at the picture that is at the top of the page on Jack and Jill Politics.

So I'd like to share a little of what I found with you. First of all, at RaceWire, there is a video of Donna Brazille during a panel discussion at the New Yorker Festival.

I’m gonna say it and get it off my chest, because for the next thirty days, I’m gonna be the best Catholic woman ever….As a child who grew up in the segregated Deep South, we’ve come so far in this country….But I remember when I used to get on the bus: my mother would tell me, “Donna, when you get on the bus, you and your brothers go all the way to the back, and don’t look at anybody.” We have changed. This is a more tolerant, open, progressive society. And yet, we’re having this conversation because [Obama] is biracial. He spent nine months in the womb of a white woman. He was raised…by his white grandparents…He got out of school and went to Harvard, and all of a sudden he’s “uppity” and there’s something wrong with him? What is wrong with us?…You can vote against him, but don’t ever put me in the back of the bus. I’m not going to the back of the bus! I’m not going to be afraid! My black skin does not make me inferior! And may I add: being a female does not make me dumb!

Carmen D. over at All About Race gives a shout-out to Richard Trumka, the Secretary Treasurer of AFL-CIO, and his courage to take a stand.

I say to all of my friends, of all skin colors, you must not tolerate racism in your space. If you want things to change, you must change. You must dig deep for the courage to say how you feel...Why should a racist comment be given more room to breathe and to grow than one that confronts it down? I know it can be scary, but there are others like you, like us, on the front lines here.

And your voice is needed.

Listen to Richard Trumka and know that you are not alone in the journey to creating a better America.

But I've saved the best for last. Al Giordano at The Field posted an email he received from a reader with the subject line: "I Cried My Last Tears Yesterday."

Dear Al,

The words in the subject line are from a gospel song by Mary Mary:

I feel that way. I write to you because I think you know how I feel, where I am coming from, and the struggle that we have all been on for so long.

If it matters, I am an African American single mother-This election means more to me than I can find the words to describe. I love this country despite all of our history.

And yesterday, I cried my last tears, after I watched the venomous, vile, and vitriolic display at the McCain-Palin rally unfold over the last few days. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and I was taught as a young child when things look bleak and you are backed up against a wall you just let go and let God. We as AAs have been subjected to the system and have the philosophy ingrained that we have to accept the things that we can not change.

Well here and now damn it--I have cried my last tears yesterday. I am going to fight!

These folks are standing up to say that they are not going to the back of the bus, they are not going to stay silent, and they are going to fight. I am humbled by their strength and motivated by their perseverance. So I'll join the fight...if not for ourselves, then at least for the children.

In this country, justice can be won against the greatest of odds; hope can find its way back to the darkest of corners; and when we are told that we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice - yes, we can.

- Barack Obama, Raleigh, North Carolina, May 6, 2008

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