I have often thought about how much things have changed – during my lifetime and right before. I have vague recollections of the civil rights and women’s movements. But in my personal experience, I would have said women were the ones lagging behind in equality. Both my mother and father worked with and were friends with Blacks who held equal or superior positions to them. It wasn’t until my working days that women started to reach salary parity. I went to fully integrated schools from day one. And in all honesty, I was never aware of anyone who was making racial slurs. But there were certainly no females playing on male sport teams.
When my son joined his first soccer team in the US, I commented at the first practice, “There are girls on your team!” My son could not grasp what I was talking about. I did notice racial prejudice for the first time about that same time – in Florida. A friend of mine had a cross burned on his lawn. But all in all, I have gone along thinking that things were certainly different. Things had changed. For the most part.
Until the last presidential election. But even then, I thought that what I saw were very isolated incidences of bigotry – against both women and Blacks. My attitude was that for me, no matter what happened it would be a win-win situation. Either we got our first woman president, in which case, I would be over the moon; or we got our first Black president, who happened to be of Irish descent, and I would be over the moon. I did notice several camps where I worked. Understand, everybody (well, 97%) was a Democrat. I expected the divide to be along policy lines during the primary and then all united behind the candidate to win against the Republicans in November. But first we had the women who were pro Hilary no matter what gaffe she made. It was time for a woman. Period. The woman could have been Aileen Wuornas. I had a toe in that camp. Our first female president in Ireland was Mary Robinson and we have had only women since. Considering the number of women leading their countries – for years – internationally, I could never understand why Americans would not elect a woman. Then there was the Barack camp. I was mostly in that camp, and that was the way I voted in the primary. But I was pretty much alone in that camp – to be honest. There was a camp that planned to vote for him. But for the reason they would “vote for anyone before I would vote for a woman”. Then there was the camp who were voting for Hilary because they would even vote for a woman before they would vote for a Black man. And no, they did not use the N-word, it was a polite workplace. There were people who did not vote in the general election when their candidate lost in the primary. Which was unusual for this particular group of very political people.
But then the general election came. We got our first Black president. And what an impressive man – of any race. I figured it was over. And I have only recently given up my rose colored glasses and have been forced to admit that I was wrong. Truth be told, I have not been overly happy with President Obama. I thought our troops would have been home by now. When other people were screaming Socialist about his “health care” plan, I was saying, “Damn, not a Socialist” because it has nothing to do with health care, only insurance regulation. And damn poor regulation at that. Too bad it wasn’t Michelle who had run. We could have had a woman and a Black president rolled into one.
But I am not happy on issues. I don’t care if he is Black, White, male or female. I am disappointed because I thought he was going to do other things than what he has done. But his term is not over. He still has a chance in my book. And when the next election comes, I will vote on his performance – in my opinion. I saw a tweet recently that said, “If tea party was really worried about the debt, they would have existed before Obama took office. Case closed.” And I had to finally admit the truth. It really is all about race. It is so sad to realize that we have not come nearly as far as I thought we had.