It’s not often that I would place much of anything political into this blog but this week we were visiting New York and you had to actively swerve to avoid the politics, literally. In Manhattan so many high-level bailout meetings were happening the hot dog vendors were parking on top of black chauffeured government cars. Bored drivers could be seen wiping imaginary dust from immaculate fenders while trying to look cool in case any celebrities or cameras happen to walk by.
The Doc would say,
I could honestly answer,
“Cool!” Said my daughter.
(turns out I was right, we heard it all going on on the radio that day)
Eventually during our stay the issue of the election came up, as though it was looming like a colonoscopy, instead of being the relief like the end of the colonoscopy that we don’t remember due to good anesthesia. The trouble was, I was told, that the Obama camp was very worried because of the insidious and still ever-present racism in the semi-conscious of our country.
The thought of this stopped me in my tracks. I realized I had not given much thought to Obama’s skin color since the primaries when we had a historical contest with a woman, a black man and a white man on the same ticket. This was pretty gutsy for this country who thought putting chocolate with peanut butter was so revolutionary they had to repeat it in a commercial 50 million times. After that Obama’s color didn’t really seem to matter, but McCain’s sure did. I had to know why he looked so very ghostly, and after thinking it over I figured he must use sunscreen with titanium or zinc, which does give a white glare under the camera. These issues become very important if you have a Dermatologist in the family.
Happily after solving that question I was free to ask myself again about Obama, expecting me to give myself a good honest answer. I hemmed and hawed a little to myself, but when I was through tapping my foot waiting for my answer I realized that yes, indeed color did matter in this race. It matters because it gives the man a different perspective on this country; a perspective that so far no other president has had. The same would be said if it were a woman in his place, or a Jew or a Canadian or a Native American. Some people might be afraid of that (except the Canadian), afraid because that other perspective may threaten their piece of the pie. The pie that is the imaginary pie of entitlement (and it better be apple) that floats above the US and sometimes gives little pieces of itself out and sometimes rushes into peoples faces. It is a very fickle pie.
I say all of this from my own experience on another hot issue. Health Care. Now that the Doc is a Doc he is expected to vote a certain way and that way is for anyone who is against TAXES. We’ve been challenged numerous times about voting against people who supposedly offer tax cuts and all that goes with that.
But it’s precisely because he’s a doctor, as well as the fact that we’ve been part of the uninsured masses, we’ve been there, seen that, been kicked around, denied care, treated like dirt. We’ve seen what happens to the mentally unstable street kid who has no-where to go because the local psychiatric hospital got shut down due to lack of funding when the Doc did his mental health rotation (not because the Doc did his mental health rotation). We don't hold out much hope that our taxes will really be used for something noble but one can always write letters and hope.
While the Doc was in Med School we were on the state run insurance program because we had 1 child and we expecting our second. At my OB/Gyn’s office in my chart on the first page was a big yellow sticky that proclaimed my insurance in big black letters. I wondered why it was there but never bothered to ask. One week I came in and saw a different doctor. When this doc opened my file and saw the sticker she let out a growl and pulled it up, tore it in half and tossed it in the trash. I watched her with dawning understanding. She looked up into my eyes and saw that I understood, she sighed and apologized, I said thanks. The next week I changed doctors. With that change also came the noticeable difference in service, the new office didn’t care which insurance I had, I wasn’t a number, I was a person.
So does Obama’s color matter in the election? I think so. He’ll have entirely different experiences than any other candidate for president. For that matter, so will McCain, his simply don’t show, so people can’t be afraid of his, and they can be of Obama’s. And if we can be honest for a moment, humans all over the world still do have prejudices of one kind or another and in the case of the US there are still white people out there who refer to other races in whispers and react in fear. We have a long way to go.
We’re strange creatures we humans. What’s on the outside gives us clues to what’s on the inside, but what’s on the inside, isn’t necessarily shown on the outside. We have to pay attention, listen, and ask to find out.