Pennsylvania and Race

23 Apr 2008

Original Blogger tags: Obama

According to AP:

“About one in five voters said the race of the candidates was among the top factors in deciding how to vote. About as many said that about the candidates’ gender. White voters who said race was a factor supported Clinton over Obama by 3-to-1, while whites who said race wasn’t a factor divided between Clinton and Obama more evenly.”

Congratulations, Pennsylvania. You not only talk the racist talk, apparently you walk the walk. It’s astonishing to me that Pennsylvanians are so open about their racial bias that they admitted it to pollsters.

You know, I spent most of my childhood in Pennsylvania, living there from 1972 to 1985, when I left for college. I’ve occasionally had thoughts of moving my family back there — perhaps trying to go back to Erie or North East and bring my skills and experience, to perhaps try to find work teaching. My wife loves small towns and working with groups like Pax Christi. My mother was always trying to convince me that there were lots of good reasons to live in Pennsylvania — of course, she also wanted her grandchildren around.

But if race is so important among Pennsylvanians, it certainly would be irresponsible of me to bring my black wife and black children to live there. I don’t want them to be be discriminated against for such an arbitrary and unscientific reason. I don’t want my daughter or either of my sons teased or abused on the grounds of skin color, or to feel like they have to “pass.” I got enough of the teasing and abuse as a fish-belly-white child. So I would have to think very hard about ever moving back.

By way of apologizing for my home state, I’ve just made a $100 contribution to the Obama campaign. I’m not even particularly supportive of Obama; I’ve been very disinterested in this year’s campaign. As a Michigan resident I was not even able to vote for my preferred candidate in the primaries, due to a party politics fiasco. I just can’t abide the thought of Obama losing on the basis of his race, and I want to send a message to that effect.

Pennsylvania, when you realize your entire population consists of bitter white retirees and impoverished state assistance recipients, and you look around and wonder where all your children have gone, perhaps you’d better first look in the mirror.

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