Tag Archives: Virginia

Race in America

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece on the complexities and blind spots of race in America. “Frank Talk of Obama and Race in Virginia” details get-out-the-vote efforts in rural parts of the state and how they collide with voter prejudices and misconceptions. It’s a sad read; I can only hope the attitudes expressed in parts aren’t widespread enough to cost Obama the Presidency.

When Cecil E. Roberts, president of the coal miners union that shapes politics in much of this mountain region, talks to voters, he tells them that their choice is to have “a black friend in the White House or a white enemy.” When Charlie Cox, an Obama supporter, hears friends fretting about Obama’s race, he reminds them that they pull for the nearby University of Tennessee football team, “and they’re black.”

Union organizer Jerry Stallard asks fellow coal workers what’s more important: improving their work conditions or holding onto their skepticism of Obama’s race, culture or religion. “We’re all black in the mines,” he tells them.

Ben and Beth Bailey sat in the back and clapped politely, but they remained unpersuaded. They said they were likely to break from their tradition of voting Democratic and might well not vote at all.

Obama “just doesn’t seem like he’s from America,” said Beth Bailey, 25. Ben Bailey, 32, noted that Obama’s middle name is Hussein, “and we know what that means.”