(Warning: The first (of probably many) posts that will most likely alienate me from 70% of my readers…because I always seem to be in the minority.)
I have very loosely kept an ear out about the Obama-Addressing-the-Children speech. When it was first criticized my impressions were that parents didn’t want their children to be exposed to political rhetoric, “brain washed” to agree with the latest health care bill. Ok. I get it. Personally, I wouldn’t want my young, impressionable children exposed to that either. As a former teacher, we were not allowed to express our political views in the classroom. It’s not the place. Even if it IS the President of the United States. Now if both sides are represented, such as political debate, that’s a different story, a learning opportunity. Which is why, I thought, parents were upset.
Then, as the event neared, copies of the speech spread through the internet. It became obvious that the speech was an innocuous attempt to encourage children to value education, value and believe in themselves. Then I came across this article reminding us that George H. W. Bush (the first George Bush) did the same thing: spoke to students and the Democrats cried, “FOUL!” Reading further I find that this is something every president since Ronald Reagan has done. Former First Lady Barbara Bush (the second one) said on television she supported Obama’s “speech” to the school age children.
As soon as I was armed with this new information I came to the conclusion that this whole stunt was political grandstanding. The bru ha ha seemed silly. Just another attempt of the Republican party to put a wrench in our president’s progress.
Ridiculous. Overblown. Insignificant.
Then I started reading the blogs out there. And comments on Facebook. And the twittering. And more than one – ok, just about every one – brought up race. “Those redneck parents are just racist.” (Speaking of the parents in Texas) “Get over it. Our president is black. Live with it.” I’m not talking about the news media suggesting that race was an issue. I’m saying that individuals out there on their blogs, twitters and status bars are still, STILL focusing on the race of our president. And my plea? Get. Over. It. Please.
How can race be an issue with the majority of Americans, as many would like us to believe, if we elected a 1/2 black ( remember- ’cause he’s also part German and Irish – his mother’s side- just like me!) President of the United States? Yes, 95% of black voters voted for Barack Obama. But, turnout of black Americans was still only 13%, up 2% from previous voting years. That means white America played a significant role in getting Obama elected.
And that’s a good thing!
That tells me that race IS NOT the issue some would like us to believe. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know my husband’s nickname for me is Pollyanna. I may be way off base with this. Maybe I am painting too rosy a picture of my fellow Americans. It seems to me that a vocal minority is creating an issue that doesn’t exist. Because whenever I heard people being interviewed about not wanting their children to hear Obama speak, not one brought up the color of his skin. And I don’t think I’m immune to hearing the truth about discrimination based on skin color. I sit here, raising two children with much darker skin than mine. We’ve heard our fair share of racist comments. But they are so far and few between.
We create our own reality. If we choose to live in judgement of others we are choosing to surround ourselves with criticism and blame. I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there that do not support our president based on the color of his skin. I just don’t believe that the good parents of our country, making a decision to protect their children from what they thought was going to be a speech centered on a political agenda, should be attacked. The full text of the speech wasn’t released until a day or two before. They didn’t have all of the facts – just some politically inspired tongue lashing in the media and school parking lots.
It should not be assumed that their decision was based purely on race.
Because we all know what happens when we assume.