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Sunday, November 9, 2008

the backlash, ignoring it may not be an option

Amidst the fanfare and euphoria of the election results, come some sobering news stories. A man in Lawrence, KS found anti-Obama racist graffiti on his house next to his Obama yard sign. A black church in the Northeast was burned to the ground and fears arose that the act was related to the election aftermath. A conservative opinion piece appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer stating that white guilt about race could now be declared dead, along with all affirmative action and other support systems for poor people. At some point, this backlash will intensify and the nation must be ready with a response.

Pundits on the right are gearing up to tear the new President down. This is part of politics and to be expected. The backlash, however, will be carried out against regular people, not the president. And if it is not carried out, then any violence that entails blacks and whites will be laid at the feet of the new President. In my area of the country there was an incident of violence at a local university involving blacks and whites. The very first response was a suggestion that this was in response to the election results. Who knows if that is so, but it is raised as a possibility.

Instead of taking the election of Barack Obama as a cum-bay-ah moment - perhaps we need to be preemptive about the inevitable second guessing and finger pointing. What would that look like? Maybe it would look like the night of the election - where people of all different stripes, joined together, and shared in the victory. If there is a racially tinged incident - we all need to speak up and support whomever is being victimized and let everyone know such attacks will not be tolerated. Will all the euphoria over the Obama victory be channeled in this way? Will the people who said "yes we can" step up and say "yes we do?"

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