Daddy! There’s a black man in the White Guy House!

“Daddy!” the voice whispered, high-pitched and panicky. George had been up, reading the new Tom Clancy novel, watching the talking heads on CNN. 

“What is it, Junior?” the old man barked. The last person he felt like talking to was his son, the President of the United States of America.

“There’s one of them black guys here, Daddy!”

“Junior, do you need Dicky to ‘remind’ you, again?” the old man asked. He could almost see his good-for-nothing son rubbing his sore butt, remembering the last ‘reminder’ Uncle Dick had given him. Georgie had blabbed to a few folks about the UFO’s buried out in Nevada. Uncle Dick had had to shoot one of the men, and he gave Georgie a few whacks with that paddle of his, for good measure.

“I’ve told you, Junior,” the old man sighed. “It’s a New World Order, Georgie. Yessiree. They like to be called ‘African Americans’ nowdays. For God’s sake, boy! Would you remember to come out of the damn rain if I wasn’t here to tell you it was wet? Hell, don’t even answer that. What’re you blathering about?”

“There’s a AFRICAN here! He says I gotta leave, now, daddy! He says HE gets to be President now!” The President started to cry.

My God, the old man thought.  

“And he called me a HONKY!” Junior wailed.

“You are a honky, son,” the old man said, softly. He felt a little like crying himself. “You are a honky.”

It was with a certain amount of glee that I began lying to my friends and family. In my defense, I offer only two comments about this statement:

  1. I’m a writer of fiction. (And, occasionally—when I can “borrow” Internet access from neighboring wavelengths—I also write for five blogs). Fiction writers are by definition liars. We make up things that aren’t true, and continually pretend those things are as real and honest as any other “truth” humans convince themselves are factual and correct interpretations of “reality”.
  2. Like most (but not all) non-pathological liars, I had specific reasons for lying—and though these reasons are inarguably selfish in nature, I was (and am) convinced the purposes were just and proper. Which is amusing, considering most humans lie with the ease and self-assured calm of any professional, yet insist that the lies of other folks should never be labelled “just and proper”. Well, to me, my lies were. Deal with it.

So what are these sad paradigms of untruth, and what were my reasons for uttering them?

Since this particular presidential election began, I’ve noticed most of my friends and neighbors and family (when they could be prodded out of self-inflicted apathy to voice  an opinion at all, which was not often) reverted to type. That is, their inner prejudices and fears took hold of their spirits and—like a British nanny shaking a baby—gave them a good thrashing.

Sorta like the thrashing McCain and Palin took last night.

The sad truth is, most of the people who wander through my life are pretenders. They pretend to be open-minded, free of prejudice, and artistically-inclined. A common fear among them is an unwillingness to be seen as in any way “stepping from the status quo”—yet most of them would argue long and vociferously that they are individualists who do not care what others think.

When it became clear that Clinton was going to have to wait her turn behind Obama for another pajama party in the White Guys House, all the bile and darkness began leaking out of friends-n-family like a sieve.

Perhaps they were scared this guy–this BLACK guy–might upset whatever political apple cart passes for Constitutional law these days. Or whatever. I’m not really sure what spooked them. But as a Southerner, I think I have a good idea.

Obama is simply too “black” to be a comfortable choice for many Southerners. Which is sad, because the South is a very different place today than it was even 20 years ago—and almost all of the scars of the Civil Rights Era have been cleverly disguised, if not exactly healed. Still, the South—by-and-large—is not the same place it was when the Birmingham cops turned high-pressure water hoses, attack dogs, and nightsticks on freedom marchers and church folks, and the Klan blew up little black girls because their skin was a little darker and their parents wanted them to go to good schools.

Oh, I know what the rest of the country thinks about us. I hear (ad naseum) the jokes on “Saturday Night Live”, the quips on radio and television, the knee-slapping jokes every other stand-up comedian spews forth for a chuckle from the drunk Yankees, to whom we are (and will always be) violent, knuckle-dragging goons named Bubba who enjoy lynchings, wife beatings, the odd castration for the crime of being an “uppity nigger”, sodomizing vacationers lost in the woods, and Sunday School. We Southerners are—and always will be—provencial and quaint (at best), and dangerous and bitterly racist (for everyone else).

Well, to hell with them.

But that doesn’t mean that racism is gone from my beloved homestate of Georgia, or the Klan has packed it in for good in my adopted state of Alabama. No. Racism is alive and well, in the hearts and heads of every single one of us, and if you say differently you are simply (like me) a liar.

Humans are full of piss and vinegar, and the best we can hope for is to try to overcome our violent natures and our love of drama—the same love that makes Jerry Springer a rich man, week in and week out.

I’ve heard it all: “I don’t think America needs a Muslim in the White House.”

                        “We’re fighting a war! Obama can’t lead us through that!”

                        “I don’t like black men. Errr…I mean, um…McCain seems like the better choice.”


I got tired or arguing. So I lied.

And it was with a certain glee that I drove to Scottsboro, Alabama at 5 p.m. Central Time yesterday, to cast my vote for the FIRST African-American President of the United States.

And though I, too, have my reservations, it’s nice to see (another) 8 years of Republican tyranny come to an ignoble end.

Bye bye Bush.

God Bless America.


(this message was approved by Gregory Purvis)


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