I’m voting for best man for the job, not ‘voting black’
BY JOHN W. FOUNTAIN firstname.lastname@example.org October 31, 2012 6:46PM
President Barack Obama shows his early voting receipt after casting his ballotat the Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago on Oct. 25. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 2:08PM
In my best Bernie Mac voice, I’m voting again for Barack Obama, “’cause he ain’t heavy, America, he’s my brother.”
A homeboy from Chi-Town with presidential swag. My soul brother by another mother. He just might end up strutting his stuff all the way back to the White House that slaves helped build, slaves who would be proud that a black first family called the presidential mansion home — for two terms.
Mac’s voice: “Wow, America, that would be somethin’ else.”
Why wouldn’t I, as a black man — as a bona fide democratic, red-blooded African American — vote for Obama?
He is, after all, the “black” candidate, the one who looks most like me, the one who likely thinks most like me, shares my experiences. The one most likely to represent my best interest and fight to resolve those issues that uniquely and fiercely plague African-American communities.
What would be wrong with me voting “black?”
It’s not like I haven’t all these years voted “white.”
Truth is it’s not like I’ve had in 34 years as an eligible voter an opportunity to vote for a black candidate — before Obama — who actually had a chance to win the presidential office.
Shirley Chisholm was before my time. The Rev. Jesse Jackson did run well. But he had about as much chance to win as an ice cube on the rack of a blazing barbecue grill.
Mac’s voice: “I’m just keeping it real, America.”
Oh, and it’s not like anybody next Tuesday is going to vote “white.”
To borrow a line from Stella Foster, “Yeah, I said it.”
I’m sure by now some readers are calling me racist, vowing never to read my crappy column again.
Wait. Hold up a minute. I’ve said nothing even remotely hateful.
I do not think that even Obama’s calling as president is to be president of “black America.” The president of the United States is president of all of America.
But ain’t I — ain’t we — as black Americans also American?
Would it be racist for me to take pride in voting for any candidate because his skin looks like mine? Or is the real sin to vote against a candidate simply because his skin doesn’t?
It is amazing how often we choose to ignore the elephant in the room — no, not the GOP, which collectively in Washington has done its best to render Obama impotent as chief executive.
The elephant I’m talking about is racism. It infects politics and is the barrier that keeps us all as Americans from a more perfect union in which all men might be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Since the election of the first black president, there is evidence that racial prejudice has deepened. According to a recent Associated Press poll, 51 percent of those surveyed expressed explicit anti-black attitudes compared to 48 percent in a survey four years ago. That compared to a test that measured implicit racial attitudes even higher at 56 percent, an increase from 49 percent in 2008.
OK, time for full disclosure:
I’ve not, as a black man, agreed with all of Obama’s policies. And I have been particularly disappointed that he has not been more outspoken on issues affecting black America, not the least of them the murderous toll here in Chicago.
But the naked truth is, I could care less whether the president is black, white or green. I’m simply looking for the best man for the job.
Mac’s voice: “He just happens once again to be a soul brother from the Chi, born right here, in the USA.”