Race, Privilege and Politics

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I was out Wednesday night for a haircut and a late dinner by myself. A very rare night on my own. As I walked home, I passed by Klassy Kuts, the black barber shop at the end of my street. I’ve done the nod and wave thing for years with those guys, but never went in. Until that night. The presidential debate was on. It was big. And loud. I lingered on the sidewalk for a moment, then just went in. I wasn’t invited. But welcome. With my freshly shaved mohawk, I stood with the four young barbers. We watched together.

I will never know what it’s like to be a black man. I am a white middle class woman. I grew up on a cul-de-sac in the Boston suburbs. I went to public school and the second it wasn’t a good fit for us, my parents put us in private school. Because they could. And they worked really hard to be able to do it all, but they did it. A lot was handed to me. I didn’t know struggle. I had a job in high school so I could buy things I wanted, not things I needed. And then I came out. And I began to understand what it’s like to be considered a second class citizen.

The youngest of the four barbers came over to me and said, “Romney just doesn’t get it. He has too much money. He doesn’t know how we struggle. He just can’t get it.” I told him, “Obama makes a lot more money than we do too. But he knows that our kids need good schools. That our families need health insurance. He knows that it’s hard and he is fighting for us. He’s not perfect, but at least he understands the struggle.”

Yesterday I walked by Klassy Kuts again. One of the barbers saw me through the window. We did that crazy wave to each other that you do to a friend you’re way too excited to see. Next time, I won’t linger on the sidewalk first.

Tuesday is the last day to register to vote. Obama’s website says “Stand with me, work with me, let’s finish what we’ve started.” Yes. Let’s do that.

To register to vote: go here.

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4 Comments

  1. We’re both registered and ready to vote – for Romney. For the first time in my life we got a yard sign and bumper stickers. We’re in Northern Virginia where it’s going to be close and sequestration would turn this area into an even worse version of the housing crisis we’ve seen in other parts of the country. Obama might have the empathy, but I don’t believe he has the know-how to change the direction of this economy.

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  2. It’s interesting, Casey, to see your perspective and to ponder at the opinions of your readers, who are clearly of various minds and from all over. I am proud to vote and, in this case, to support President Obama toward a second term, for precisely the opposite reasons that Beth mentions: Having lived under the financial and civil chaos that Mitt Romney created as governor of Massachusetts, I do not in the slightest believe that he has the economic interests of the middle classes (and certainly not the lower classes) in mind. From my point of view, he has proved himself to focus entirely on the collection of massive and unnecessary wealth, and has yet displayed no convincing plans whatever for creating sustainable, long-lasting income growth for working families. He has not shown himself to be prepared to deal with the housing crisis as it affects average Americans, and we have seen time and time again that trickle-down economics do nothing but exacerbate the problem by creating false statistics and false hope. It is precisely that economic tack that created the housing crisis in the first place; two wrongs do not and will not make a right.

    I’m not a party-line Democrat: I listen to arguments, I watch debates, I read opposing coverage, and I come to my own conclusions. I’m sure Beth does as well, as I’m sure you do in your house. I feel it a great duty and an extreme privilege to be a part of the democratic system of this country, and I plan to exercise that right with my whole heart and to the best of my ability. May the best man win, and I believe that man is President Obama, for all of our sakes.

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  3. Meister – I respect anyone who takes the time to be informed and vote! I’m also glad that this election seems to really be between two pretty different views on what needs to be done – one way or the other we’ll have to move forward after the election.

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  1. In Case You Missed It | Life with Roozle - [...] Sunday I wrote about Race, Politics and Privilege and my experience visiting my neighborhood barber shop. [...]

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