“…the intersection of race, class and gender.”


The NY Times ran an article today on southern black women and the Obama-Clinton choice.
Visiting beauty parlors in South Carolina the writer speaks to dozens of black women, almost all of whom appear torn between the two. Edwards, although born in the state, is barely mentioned. This is attributed to the fact that Clinton and Obama, “stand at the intersection of race, class and gender,” according to Dr. Adolphus G. Belk Jr, co-director of recent voter research.

Edwards is mentioned, in fact, only in a defeatist manner. One woman says,

He can be elected because this is still America, and white men still rule.”

As these women struggled with their impending decision, I was struck most not by whom they leaned toward, but the reasoning behind their deliberations.

A woman known as Miss Clara worried over Obama becoming President.

“’I fear that they just would kill him, that he wouldn’t even have a chance,’ she said as she styled a customer’s hair with a curling iron. One way to protect him, she suggested, would be not to vote for him.”

Are we really still so far regressed? I don’t know if I’m out of touch with reality, or she is, and it’s frightening. Just when I think that we’re certainly more enlightened than that, Miss Clara voices her hesitancy for voting for Clinton:

‘A man is supposed to be the head,’ she said. ‘I feel like the Lord has put man first, and I believe in the Bible.’”

Okay, maybe we’re not. When religion trumps intellect, anything is possible.

“Some said that specific issues like health care and education were important to them, but most thought their votes would be based on intangibles and determined in the end by prayer.”

Intangibles and prayer? Is this how most Americans approach this kind of decision? How is anyone supposed to campaign on that? These sound like sweet, lovely women who really don’t believe that someone new or progressive in the White House will effect their own lives. It seems as though, to them, the election – maybe every election – is entirely ideological and not practical. A woman President. A black President. I suppose if your life as a lower-income, middle-aged southern black woman isn’t likely to change in any way that you can perceive, precedent may seem as good a yard stick as any. And prayer.


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