I'd like to thank the group of bloggers here for the invite to participate. I've decided to make my first post a cross-post from MyDD that I posted just today, about not just my own personal political journey, but my grandmother's, in this primary.
I've been paying alot of attention to the recent "PUMAs" that have rejoined us here at MyDD, and a question has continued to cross my mind about what it will take to get these people to embrace Senator Obama. I never really understood why someone would want to vote for John McCain. But I do have someone we might consider a supposed "prototypical" deadender in my family. But before we go into, that, I'd like you to meet us:
My grandmother is now 79, although she looks younger and acts younger as well. She grew up in Arkansas, born before segregation was ended and less than a decade after women were given the right to vote on a federal level.
My grandmother has always been a wonderful person, full of kindness and warmth to those that are less fortunate, and working her entire life at General Motors, raising my wonderful mother, who passed away in August of last year, and playing a key role in my life growing up, raising me with my mother because of the lack of my father being in my life. One of the most wonderful things she ever did was accept and embrace my homosexuality; with her social and religious upbringing, I was SHOCKED that it came to her so easily, but I think it was more proof of the amount of love she has for her grandchildren and especially me.
At the beginning of this primary season, we didn't talk about politics much. She knew I supported Hillary and she has always voted for a Democrat; never for a Republican. She favored Hillary; but we never spoke much about Senator Obama; I was always hesitant to bring him up. When I was 13 (before I came out of the closet), I had decided to take one of my best friends, Crystal, to my school's homecoming dance. My grandmother, unfortunately, was not warm to the idea, because Crystal was African-American. She never really went far beyond that in an explanation; but I chalked up her misgivings to her upbringing, and even though I talked to her about things; I could never really force the issue. I knew that she was an amazing person; and intutively, growing up in the background she did, it would take more than a lifetime to turn around the societal norms that she had implanted in her head; however, she had always proven to be a very open minded person; she certainly never disrespected other races or people, and got along with coworkers and was kind to everyone she ran across.
But this incident was 8 years ago. I always wondered, if Senator Obama won, how would she react? I got to find out the other day. We talked about how Hillary had dropped out of the race, and I learned two things from that conversation. First, that she was heartbroken over the fact that she probably would never get to vote for a female President; but second, how hopeful Senator Obama's candidacy made her, now that he was the nominee.
She marveled to me that she could have never dreamt of having to pick between a woman and an African American for her ballot; but how hopeful that made her for the future of this nation. She told me that she's voting for Senator Obama in November not just because he's right on policy but because he gives her hope that maybe, one day, I could run for the Presidency too. We could never dream of a GLBT President right now...but if Barack and Hillary can do what they did, who's to say that someone in my community can't?
In a way, I think the experience of this primary has opened her eyes to the hopes and dreams of many minorities across this country, and many civil rights activists, that OUR TIME HAS COME. She could have rejected the hope and complained about the process, and held out and chosen not to support anyone...but she saw the hope that he provided to millions, and the hope that he provides to her, just like the hope that Hillary provided to her.
She chose to reject the negativity of this primary; and despite whatever tensions may have existed for her during her upbringing, has embraced Barack's message of hope and change. In many ways, one of the reasons why I support Senator Obama is that I believe we can do better--and he, just like Hillary, is one way we can start doing that.
Listen, PUMAs, I know how hard this must be. But if my grandmother can embrace the inspiration that Hillary provided and now Barack provides; why can't you? I hope--like her--that you see what we can do this November--how Barack being President would give hope not just to African Americans, but women, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, GLBT Americans and everyone across the spectrum, how his win could provide us the idea that WE CAN do what we dream of.