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I've heard it expressed that African American support for Barack Obama is driven largely by a sort of racism... blacks sticking up for blacks.  I don't buy it.  You only need look at past elections to see that African Americans have always leaned largely Democratic (and why wouldn't they, its not like the Republican party has delivered on the issues that effect minorities).  Still, Obama's candidacy is indeed historic in nature, and the passion of some of his supporters is consequently understandable.  That point was driven home to me while I was driving home from work a few weeks ago.

More over the flip...

I live and work in Milwaukee Wisconsin, a racially diverse city with all the usual issues facing a major metro area.  I work and socialize with people of nearly every ethnic background, so I like to think I'm as broad minded about issues of race as is possible for the typical middle class American white guy.  Nevertheless, I know I can never truly appreciate what it is like to grow up black in America, not having walked in those shoes myself.  But on the Thursday that Obama accepted the Democratic nomination, I witnessed something that brought home to me just how historic his candidacy is and how deeply personal this election is to a great many fellow Americans.

I work a few miles outside of Milwaukee and take the Interstate to and from the office.  The route is crisscrossed by a variety of overpasses.  The ones that include pedestrian walkways are popular targets for protesters.  It is not unknown to drive home and periodically see rows of people holding signs or banners.

And so it was on this day, accept... it wasn't signs.  On two of the overpasses, from end to end, stood African American families; young children to elderly grandparents, and they held not signs, but flags.

Just American flags.

Nothing else.

That said everything that needed saying.  It took me a moment to remember that Obama was giving his acceptance speech that day.  It took me another moment to think about what it must mean to these families, and what they were saying with those flags.  The right wing has tried to push an image of Obama as the angry black man, as some sort of reverse racist.  In their twisted view, blacks are excited by his candidacy simply because 'one of their own' is taking some of the power away from the 'white establishment'.

But those flags say something different.  Obama's run for the highest office in the land is exciting, to African Americans and many other Americans, more because of what it says about America.  We are a better country than the cynics previously believed.  Many of those cynics were African Americans who have struggled with the realities of racism their entire lives (and I say this based on conversations I've had with my black friends).  If some of our fellow citizens have embraced an Obama Presidency with a bit more passion because of that... can we really blame them?

On Thursday, August 28, a crowd of American citizens turned out show the flag and their patriotism, perhaps to celebrate an enhanced sense of inclusion in the promise of America... and this middle class white dude from Milwaukee found himself pulling off the road to dry his eyes.

Originally posted to protothad on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 02:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips... (11+ / 0-)

    for patriotism and a renewal of America's promise.

    Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

    by protothad on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 02:59:50 PM PDT

  •  we are coming together (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shhs, melpomene1, mellowwild

    in a lot of ways....long may it last.  thank you for this diary....

    I ain't scared of Al Quaeda, I'm scared of Al Cracker...Chris Rock

    by vmm918 on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 03:02:28 PM PDT

  •  Yeah! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    power537

    And half the McCain supporters are probably voting for him not because they agree with him but because they are frightened of the black man with the funny name.

    "We don't throw the first punch, but we'll throw the last." --Barack Obama, Oct. 6, 2008

    by Luthien Tinuviel on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 03:06:38 PM PDT

  •  Was it racism when over 90 percent of AA's (0+ / 0-)

    voted for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry?  The sad part is that for a short while the parties once split the AA vote.

    "...the fundamentals of our economy are strong"- John Sidney McCain 09/15/08

    by Shhs on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 03:10:33 PM PDT

  •  African-Americans love this country (0+ / 0-)

    I was not born in this country and I took english
    for a year because it was important language for
    an Electrical Engineer.
    African-Americans like others helped build this
    country for all Americans.
    A) 60% of African-Amercans were Hillary Clinton
      supporters during IOWA primary to South Carolina.
    B)In Tennesse Nikki(African-American) vs Cohen (White)in largely African-American district lost.
    Nikki used racism against Cohen linking him
    with a KKK it's kind dumb because Cohen is Jew.
    C)Jamaica is 95% black but they voted for white man
     to lead their country.
    D)Young people in this country was the base
     of Obama :African American, Asian American,
     Native America, European American, Hispanics...
     created this movement Obama was the figure Head.

    I was with John Edwards but I worked hard and donate  to Obama.

    •  There Is Hope For Us All Yet (0+ / 0-)

      B)In Tennesse Nikki(African-American) vs Cohen (White)in largely African-American district lost.
      Nikki used racism against Cohen linking him
      with a KKK it's kind dumb because Cohen is Jew.

      If I vote for Barack Obama because we are both Irish, that is tribalism.

      If I vote for Barack Obama because I think we Irish are discriminated against, that is somewhat better.  I would be an idiot but, hey, we idiots get to vote too.

      If I vote for Barack Obama because I think he belongs to a different race, that is tribalism.  I am an idiot but, hey, we idiots get to vote too.

      If I vote for Barack Obama because idiots think he belongs to a different race, I can feel good about not being an idiot like those other voters.  Not much to feel good about but something I guess.

      You know what makes me feel real good about America? That black Americans elected a Jew in Tennessee against the pull of racism.  Man oh man, does that make me feel good.

      Thank you for sharing a bit of joy with this proud American.

      Best,  Terry

    •  Yes we do --- and it is both overwhelming and (0+ / 0-)

      humbling to feel that our country loves us a little bit too.

  •  If there was a picture (0+ / 0-)

    it would say something about people in this country.

    I have but one life to give for my country. And I'll be damned to the fiery pits before I give it to McSame and Caribou Barbie.

    by Victory of Renegades on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 04:26:43 PM PDT

  •  Patriotism in Downtown Wisconsin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, mellowwild

    Well said, dude.

    Fellow white fellow in Madison

  •  Beautiful diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, mellowwild

    Thanks!

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