You better believe Obama was playing the race card when he said, “They’ll tell you I don’t look like other Presidents on the dollar bill.” Absolutely! He was garnering sympathy for being black, for not being white, for being different. And you know what? It played well with his supporters. Yeah, they said to one another, they may not say it, but they think it! Now, he turns it on John McCain, accusing him of playing the race card when John McCain responds to the comment. This is one man who plays it both ways.
I love to tell this story about Grace. She was about four years old and she had a baby doll named Alice. Alice was black. We were visiting a friend whose daughter was dating a black man. He was very nice, and wanted to engage Grace in conversation, so he said, “That’s a pretty baby. What is her name?” Grace looked up at him with her sweet, innocent brown eyes and said, “Chocolate.”
I about died.
The truth is, there are some things that are very obvious. Obama does look different. His hair is different, his skin is different, he has blue lips and an odd name. Why is it racist to point these things out? It’s not like we are saying he can’t be president because he looks different. If that was the case, McCain would be out too with his strange tight skin and no-lip mouth. Ew.
The problem is that as human beings, we identify with those that are like us and the first impression we have of someone is a visual one. At the parade on Saturday, I was sitting next to an oriental guy with some tattoos and hip-hop clothes. This lady walks up to him and says, “Can I give you a tract? Do you know Jesus as your personal savior?” He said, “Yes, I’ve been a Christian all my life.” She started to walk away, and I said, “Hey, can I have one?” She handed me one and walked away without so much as asking me if I was saved or not. Why was it that she made the assumption that he was a sinner, and I was saved? Because I’m like her. I’m a white woman dressed conservatively, and he looked slightly gangsta and therefore…..sinner.
So are we all guilty of playing the race card – or shall we say prejudice card – when we look at someone and it registers that they are different? Obviously not. It is not in the observing, it is in the evaluating. This is a distinction I wish media commentators would remember before inflaming a wildly reactive public on a rather touchy subject. After all, this presidential campaign is historic whether you support Obama or not. He's opening the way for African Americans to aspire to all heights, and their community at large is in great need of encouragement in this way. In all actuality, if Obama were more open about the race issue and not use it in an inflammatory way, I think it would only benefit his campaign - and the African American public. It's like when you are pointing out a fat person and you say, the one in the blue shirt. It's a white elephant, people, and we'll get nowhere pretending it doesn't exist.