This being Veterans Day, I'd like to share one of my favorite Marine Corps boot camp stories. On the third day, we were introduced to our Drill Instructors. The recruits sat on the floor with their knees in their chests, eyeballs glued to the drill instructors as they introduced themselves, one by one. One guy, a Sergeant, came out and started talking about how, in the Marine Corps, there were no "black" Marines, or "white" Marines--we were all just MARINES! This was 1980, the country still identified itself along race lines on many topics--the Supreme Court's Bakke decision was still fresh on everyone's tongue. I'm thinking: "Wow, this is great! No distinctions, no prejudice, just a bunch of Marines! Great!" Then the next thing from his lips was: "We're just 'light-green' Marines and 'dark-green' Marines!" (SMH!!) Oh well, so much for that experiment!
I wrote earlier that on Election Day, it took close to four hours to cast my ballot, the longest I've ever taken to vote in any Presidential election I've participated in. Right after the balloting, I posted a few observations from my "eternity" standing in the polling line--some were sincere, some are kinda snarky.
When we got home (a little after 10:00 p.m.), my wife and I didn't have to wait long for the election results, "Uncle Baama" (as one little kid, waiting in line with his dad, kept referring to President Obama) had won easily. In the days prior to November 6, many of my Black friends would send email messages and Facebook pokes about the importance of voting, and often included video clips or photos reminding folks my age (55+) of the dark days of segregation and the fight for voter rights in the South. The emails would be very blunt about how important it was to vote in this election (re-electing Obama) because the "fear" or implied "threat" was we (Blacks) would be forced, by hooded (and un-hooded) thugs, back down the road to the good old days of Sheriff Bull Connor's fire hoses and police dogs, tear gas, warrantless arrests, church bombings, picnic lynchings, and out right murder! The implication was, as Blacks, we had an OBLIGATION to vote to prevent American from again sinking into that abyss. Quite frankly, I was a little offended by the heavy-handed imagery of those messages, mainly because I'm convinced that America has long ago turned the corner on that kind of overt, blatant, institutionalized racial prejudice, bigotry, and race hatred. I want to believe we are past that. Sure, there are individuals out there who will always think in those terms, but that's not the majority of Americans, and I did not believe that's where Romney or the GOP were trying to take us this year. There was no need for concern that if you didn't vote for Obama in 2012, that America would backslide to its days of apartheid.
But I'll be damned if, during the coverage of the election results, many news anchors, guests, and so-called "political experts" (especially on Fox News) weren't actually blaming Romney's loss on race! These people were actually upset that "minorities" had the temerity and the gall vote in the manner and number that they did! I couldn't believe my ears that by voting, we (minorities) were to "blame" for Romney's loss. These clowns were saying crap like:
- "...the white establishment is now the minority..."
- "...it's not a 'traditional' America anymore..."
- "...this is the new America; this isn't your father's America anymore..."
WTF!! I could not believe I was hearing this!! Is this America?!? The thing that saddened and (and pissed me off) the most is the fact that when I look back on it in retrospect, both sides willfully played the race card. It seems no matter what we do or say as a nation, in the end, it all comes down to race! (damnit...) When the heat is turned up, someone's going to shout or whisper or insinuate the "N" word, or the "C" word, or the "S" word, or the "J" word. The funny thing is, when I was standing in that voting line, there was one other thing I observed that didn't impress me enough to note, and that was the colors of the people standing around me. I was surrounded by people of all colors, races, nationalities, languages, and creeds--a nice "stew" of Americanism. To keep my legs from going numb, I walked up and down the line just watching folks with my ears falling on this or that conversation. There were whites, blacks, Indians, Asians, Hispanics (or is that "Latinos?"), Arabs, a Russian couple, Africans--it just seemed like "people" to me. It never dawned on me that we were still "black and white" and "minorities and majorities." After listening to the jerks on Fox News, I don't think I want to see a "traditional" America again, but I guess we are "light-green" and "dark-green" Americans.