Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lots on My Mind


The election of Barack Obama has plunged me into contemplation about race in the United States. I'm not quite ready to write it all out yet, but last night I did what I enjoy doing most when I am in a contemplative mood.

I drove over the Coast Range to Florence, my mind quietly working over the ways I've come to understand racial difference in our country. The drive did me a lot of good.

After all that thinking, I did what I enjoy doing when I need to let my mind relax from its thoughts. I played slot machines at the casino and lost myself in flashing lights, Diet Pepsi, bells, animated figures, and the suspense and tension playing slots helps me feel.

I had a meal coupon and so I took a break from playing and plunged back into contemplation over salad, cold shrimp, crab, breaded scallops, razor clams, breaded jumbo shrimp, seafood pasta, and more Diet Pepsi at the Friday night fish buffet.

The buffet was not very well attended, so while a pianist played the greatest hits of Celine Dion, Elton John, and the early Bee Gees not far behind me, I thought more about race and what it's meant to me be white and a native North Idahoan.

So often, when the word "race" is employed, it's in reference to people who are not white.

Last night, I needed to think about myself and my family in terms of race, our race, in terms of being white, and how strongly my consciousness and feelings of belonging, especially in North Idaho, are grounded in the fact that I'm white.

I'm not very interested in white guilt. I'm interested in looking as dispassionately as I can at what being white means to a guy like me who has lived, worked, and played with almost exclusively other white people my whole life.

But, I'm not quite really to bust my thoughts into words yet.

I am getting closer to understanding my vote for Barack Obama and closer to understanding why I have expressed my joy at the prospect of his presidency in sober, somber reflection.

I think it all began in the basement of my parents' house, when at ten or eleven years old I used to spend a lot of time reading Life and Look magazines' presentation of the Civil Rights movement.

My consciousness about racial difference in the USA began then and all these forty-five, fifty years later I am still retreating into the basement of my inward self, trying to understand.

If this sounds interesting to you, I hope you'll come back and read more of what I've been thinking as I slowly, somberly, and seriously start to write about my vote for Obama and my thoughts about being white.

1 comment:

tumblewords said...

I will come back and read your next piece...from the same area as you, I remember seeing a person, not white, for the first time and what a surprise it was. Not scary or hateful - just surprising. Unsure why I don't think of President-elect Obama as being other than white. Just thinking here. Hmmm. Enjoyed your thought processing!