105 Ways to Give a Book

Blog The Vote

My daughters and I canvassed the neighborhoods for our candidate and were given a short form to chart our progress. I took care of the talking and my seventh grader took care of the marking. After our second house with two cars in the driveway and no answer at the door, my daughter quipped, “We’ll have to check off Not Home because Hiding isn’t an option.”

In this election, hiding isn’t an option. Because with the economy, the war, climate change, health care, energy independence, and pending Supreme Court nominations all at the tipping point, each person needs to make his or her voice heard on the issues. Yes, the issues — this election can’t be about who you’d like to have a beer with or who you’d want to coach your daughter’s soccer team. It’s certainly shouldn’t be about who is most like you. (Really, in what other capacity would we select someone based on them being most like us? “I’m not sure he’s a great brain surgeon, but he’s so like me.”) If you haven’t done so at this point, stop listening to party lines or following decades of loyalty, and check yourself on the issues. I’ll suggest this very good Washington Post article comparing the positions of the candidates.

I’ve made no secret of my politics, but today’s Blog the Vote round-up is based on issues. I feel comfortable with most of the ideas of my party, but today I’ll talk about one that isn’t on the checklist but has been an undercurrent throughout the campaign: It’s time to stop fighting the cultural wars of the sixties and to start addressing the cultural shift of the new millennium.

Andrew Sullivan has been instrumental in forming my thoughts on this issues, and I’ll paraphrase him now. Talking about whether there were racists who wouldn’t vote for a black man, he broadened the topic. There are some people whose racist views are specifically targeted against African Americans, but what he saw more was a general fear of approaching a minority-majority population in America — and the embodiment of that concept was coming together in the candidacy of an African American president. This idea resonated with me like no other, so let me make a few points about the cultural shift in America.

First of all, it is inevitable. Unless you want to literally divide up the country — and I’ve provided a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way to do so — this change is coming. Minorities as a group will reach majority population by 2042. By 2023, more than half of all children will be minorities. It’s time to stop fighting it and to stop fighting over it.

Secondly, I’m here on this side of the cultural shift and I can say... it’s okay. Overall, Northern Virginia is a 40.4 percent minority, so going to the Ross up the street can feel like visiting the United Nations. And I like it. My kids are exposed to all sorts of people and cultures. I can’t think of a better education they can have for living in a global society than seeing it work in their schools, their libraries, and their chain-discount stores.

My third point is that I’m living it. I’ve accepted into my family and into my heart my biracial niece. Before she blessed our lives, I thought that I was living in a diverse nation. Since she broke into my soul, I realized how little I really saw. Children’s books and Disney princesses don’t represent her color. The American story isn’t necessarily her heritage. Racism still exists. But not if I can have anything to so with it. Even if the steps are small, I can speak out, I can write, and I can vote. Hiding isn’t an option.

I owe it to my girls. Sometimes the big picture is in the small picture.

11 comments:

TadMack said...

Oh, my GOSH, your girls. Are so. Adorable.

*sniffle*

(And seriously!!! What other area in life do we choose for the person most like us!?!? Wow, I'm totally going to get the girl next door to fix my septic tank. She's actually an architect, but he's SO LIKE ME I'm sure she'll make it work!)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I love this post, MR.

Kelly Fineman said...

Oh how I love that photo. *sniff*

As I've repeatedly told people I've met who are still undecided (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE???), you don't have to like the person. You have to pick the one you think will be the best manager/leader, even if it means holding your nose when you pull the lever.

Lee Wind said...

Okay, that was beautiful - I love that photo of the girls! Thanks for leading with your heart.
here's keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow and the world beyond...
Lee

Cloudscome said...

Beautiful post! So much sense in your advice and so touching!

tim b said...

Just cast my vote here in NYC, but wished it could count down there in Virginia. A visiting friend from North Carolina absentee-balloted before he came up.

Here's to a happy Election Day. For you and for all of us.

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

A lovely post, Pam!!

I know it's not too relevant, but not answering your door is not necessarily hiding: a) I certainly hope people often leave their homes without taking their cars! and b) we're all extremely busy and we can choose how to spend the precious few hours we do have in our homes.

Wishing you all the best tonight!

Michele Thornton said...

My husband and I adopted our daughter six years ago. She is African American and I am truly hoping that her very first memory of a president will be of a black man, with his beautiful wife and daughters in the White House! What a day, what a world!

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the lovely post! My family has been blessed with biracial cousins as well-their dad (my just about brother) is from Togo, and his wife's from Ohio. I will be voting in part for their kids, my nephews and niece.

Terry said...

A wonderful post. Makes me wistful for life in Northern Virginia. Our daughter is Latina, and it is so wonderful to expand our horizons. Lets hope there are better words than minority and majority in this new millennium.

Mitali Perkins said...

Did you hear Obama describe his desire for a puppy that's a mutt "like me"? What an amazing time in history!

I am glad for the clarity of stats like the ones you shared, but thank you for reminding us that eyes open quickly when we love particularly and personally, as you do your gorgeous niece.