I'm in my 60s, and have a sister, a dear woman I love very much. We are both White. Even though she lives in a city far away, we keep in touch via email and usually Skype 1c a week or even more. She is married to her 1st husband of some 40 years, has two children who have families and lives of their own. She was a small business owner, a bookkeeping and accounting service, but she's retired now. And yes, she's a Republican. She believes the Government is too large, taxes too high, and socialism is creeping up on us. But she is not a wackjob, a tea-bagger, or radical. She is a Conservative as that label was meant when she became politically aware, sometime in the mid-60s. We have lots of conversations about this'n'that, but rarely discuss politics because we are both afraid it will damage our relationship. We each respect the other's point of view, and view each other as Patriots in the best sense of the word. We do agree, though, that the religious right are a bunch of wackjobs and religion should not play a part in Government. Neither of us practices any religion, although we were raised Catholic.
I also have a family, still married to my 1st wife of some 35 years. My wife and I adopted 2 children when we were in our prime, a pair of biological half-sisters, 4 and 5 years old. We were living in Texas at the time. Our daughters are African American. Our case worker was also African American, and she told us that if it were up to her, she's squash this adoption. She did not believe Black children should be adopted to White people. In fact, she belonged to an organization, the National Association of Black Social Workers, who had then - and maybe still does - a position paper opposing the placement of Black children with White Adoptive families. The only reason she signed off on it was under duress, and under the direction of her Supervisor, who was enforcing a Texas law that forbade racial discrimination in the matter of adoption. The NABSW believe it will cause them to lose their racial heritage.
Unlike my sister, my daughters did not turn out so well. When a couple adopts a family group of 'older' children, there are going to be problems, regardless of race. And there were. We naively thought we had enough love to fix any problem. While it takes love, it takes more than love. I suspect that nowadays, there are many services available to adoptive families. Then, that state's Child Protective Services put us in touch with other adoptive families so we could support each other. That was a good thing, but still not enough. When the older was 14, she ran away from home, and she has been on her own ever since. She had several children, all of whom have been adopted off or placed with other caretakers, and is now homeless by choice. The younger left home and moved in with a man who used drugs and violence. She had a baby by him, and moved back in with Mom and Dad. She has a job as a nurses aide, the pay is poor and she barely qualifies for benefits. She is underinsured, typical of single mothers with bad jobs. Both girls, women now, are in their mid 30s.
All this as background. Yesterday, I was having a Skype conversation with her, asking her advice on how to handle the campaign account for which I am the treasurer, since she is an accountant and knows things. And I was telling her of my state's Republican candidate for US Senate, Wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, who hired some urban Black youth to GOTV, hold signs, appear at rallies, phone bank. She offered them low pay, but when she lost the election, she stiffed 'em. They went to the local TV station who claims 'We've Got Your Back' and if you have a problem (with authority, landlords, police, etc) they'll investigate. They did, went to the campaign office, the person there sat down and wrote them checks, which then bounced. My sister was horrified. She asked if this candidate was Black. No, but she has Black actors in her wrestling stable, and Black people in most of her political ads.
So we say good-bye, and a few minutes later I get an email from her: "...I don't know why I'm helping you as you apparently believe I'm racist since I was not in favor of Obama. Somehow, all political stories are about racism to you. I don't think of things that way. I don't know what else to say..."
Well, I took it hard. I know she was not if favor of Obama, but it never even occurred to me that it might be because she is a racist. I was stunned. I don't believe I ever said such a thing to her, but she must have picked up on it somehow.
So I'm asking myself, am I too sensitive? Believe me, I've seen some racist attitudes and behaviors that I otherwise wouldn't have - thank you White Privilege! - because of the association with my daughters. And I know racism is out there, there are plenty of folk who just don't like having a n****r in the White House, including some cousins of mine, also about my age. But really. There are things I don't like about Obama, he's not perfect, but his color is not among them.
So I emailed back to her that I thought I understood why she didn't approve of Obama and it wasn't about his color. And we agreed to just not talk politics any more. And this will be hard, as our brother is a politician.
But I'm still wondering, do I tend to look for racism, and perhaps see it when it really isn't there? Or see it as more important than other factors, such as right wing religiosity?
A little introspection, if you please.