Race is huge focus in the media right now. I’ve been wondering how I should respond to it all. Then I remembered a very short story that I wrote when I was in Intermediate Nonfiction in college. It’s a little creepy how I sort of predicted that race problems would persist. Feel free to comment!
“The End of Racism”
Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president on November 4, 2008. His election was considered to be “the end of a long journey” and “an event that shattered 200 years of history.” The United States of America had finally “put an end to racism.”
The neighborhoods in Collierville, Tennessee were filled with McCain/Palin signs. They were in the yards, on cars and on t-shirts, and the frequency of these sightings increased as long as John McCain remained ahead in the polls. The McCain supporters didn’t mind the occasional Obama/Biden sign or bumper sticker. Their man was in the lead. When Obama took the lead for the first time, someone or maybe a group of people went around and tore all of the Obama/Biden signs out of yards and off of cars, including the yard and cars of the house at 579 Hermitage Trail Drive.
Collierville High School held a mock election a few weeks before Election Day. John McCain won by a landslide. It made sense. CHS had a Republican Club that boasted more than 300 members. There was no Democrat Club. The vast majority of students had wealthy parents who had wealthy parents who had wealthy parents. And there were race fights almost every week. A white student would call a black student a nigger, and then the black student would get in trouble for trying to hit him. Needless to say the idea of a black, Democrat president did not sit well with most people.
I begged my dad not to make me go to school on November 5, 2008. He refused, telling me that I needed to hold my head high. All I wanted to do was disappear. The school was unusually quiet that day, but you could almost hear the unspoken tension. The majority of the white students walked in with their heads down and their faces sullen. The majority of the black students were wearing shirts with Martin Luther King Jr. on them. Many of them were sent to the office because the shirts violated the dress code. One white student wore sign pinned to his shirt that said, “Free at last, free at last. Good God almighty, we’re free at last.” The sarcasm got laughs and approval from his white peers. He didn’t get in trouble.
“The nation’s bird is now fried chicken.”
“Do we call it the Black House now?”
“God! Those black kids are so obnoxious today.”
“I hope Obama gets shot.”
I came home from school that day to find my dad watching the election news coverage. He had stayed home from work to drink and cry with happiness. By the time, I got home, his lap was filled with used tissues and his eyes were red from crying.
“It’s actually happening, Andrea,” he told me. “After years of oppression, we’ve finally done it. The race war is over!”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him how wrong he was. He would eventually find out on his own. We all would.