Tuesday, August 31, 2010

But I Kept Silent

A few months before the 2008 elections, I was standing in line at my credit union. CNN was on the TV but the volume was off but all we could see was Obama. I stifled my disgust, but the man who was in front of me in line, who was also black, began telling me about how after he was done there he was planning to go campaigning. I smiled at him while he went on with his story. I knew what he was thinking. Then he ended his speech with "you know we gotta stick together". I looked at him and wanted to say, "what do you mean 'we' and what makes you think I'm supporting Obama?" But I kept silent.

I was in the elevator at work one day when another woman got on, a white woman. She looked at my satin floral dress and string of pearls and complemented me. I thanked her. Then she added, "you look like Michelle Obama." I froze and pursed my lips but managed to stretch out to a half smile. I wanted to tell her "excuse me, but I was wearing pearls, Gap, Banana Republic, classic sweaters and pencil skirts LONG before the campaign stylists slapped it on her to make her look more accessible. And do I really look like I have a sinister 'I'm going to eat your young' look on my face?" But I kept silent.

After the inauguration my office was all atwitter about the new BLACK president we had. Praising every inch of him as if he lost a digit of a finger it'd have been worshipped as a holy relic. I wanted to scream "HE'S A SOCIALIST! And what do you really KNOW about him anyway? He is NOT all that! Michelle is NOT pretty! He will RUIN us!" But I put on my iPod, and kept silent.

I happened to be walking past the office of a higher up and caught wind of a conversation about the health care debate. I overheard two people, who I'd hoped would have been more mature and objective about things, especially considering that they were both former military, speaking about how the white Republicans just wanted to keep blacks from getting anything. I wanted to yell into the office "you know, I'm REALLY disappointed in you all! Boy, if only you really knew about me and what I believe! Would you still have that to say to me? Would you try to find a reason to fire me? Would you too think I was a traitor to my race?" But I kept silent.

Oftentimes I ask myself, why do I have to keep silent? I thought we were supposed to be more open to discourse now? I want to shout at the top of my lungs and be as loud and in your face as so many on the left. But then I remember, sometimes it's better to speak softly, or not at all, and carry a big stick. I remind myself that people that far gone will be disinclined to hear the words I say anyway, so I should be more about action to bring about change. Since I still have to live in this world, avoid potential violence, and keep my job (Lord knows I can't afford to lose that right now!), it's probably best that I do remain silent. But make no mistake about it, I will make my sentiments known through my actions. I will be a part of the silent resistance. I will deal with the temporary inconvenience of having to hold my tongue, so that maybe one day, my son, and others in the future, won't be forced into silence.


  1. A Southern Belle in Alabama thinks you are Wonderful!! I, like you, "saw the light" in '08. This is a wonderful article and I completely understand what you are saying. Thank you for standing as a true American with other true Americans. God Bless You Always.

  2. My dear, you are much prettier than Michelle O.!

    And like you I remained silent much too long, perhaps for different issue but same reasons. No more! You know we (Americans) have to stick together!!;-)

  3. Great post!

    I was so sad when Michelle started wearing a lot of J. Crew. Nooooo! I love that store and I don't like people thinking I am copying her!

  4. What a great post. Glad I followed the link from Da Tech Guy.

    Funny story. We were stationed in the UK when Obama was elected, and goodness knows politics never came up b/t me and my Brit friends and acquaintences. But his election was such big news and everybody assumed that I would think it was as great as they did: "oh, isn't it wonderful, ahhn't you excited about your new president?" My older son was confused. He comes downstairs and finds me weeping in front of the TV b/c of the election, then goes to primary school where everyone's agush over it.


  5. Ahh, so well stated. It's people like you that inspire hope. Keep up the good work.
    Red Dog