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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