So hey, I know this is a sex blog, but can I talk about race for a second?
Four years in, and I *still* get misty when I see a First Family of color in the White House. I think about the impact that image has on every pair of eyeballs that sees it, giving greater truth, at long last, to the idea that anybody can grow up to be President. (Uh… as long as they’re a boy. And Christian. And straight and married and… well whatever; it’s progress.)
A great deal of the election post-mortem has described how people who aren’t white or men looked at the Republicans and went, “Dude, those fuckers are kind of crazy,” and then voted for the other guy (and more than ever, the other guy was a girl) in droves.
And the crazy fuckers were mostly white and mostly dudes. Like, what would have happened if the crazy-ass rape guys had been people of color instead of white dudes? The thing is, they could never have been people of color because (a) they wouldn’t have been Republicans; (b) the Republican party wouldn’t have supported them; and/or © that kind of total whackanuttery is only possible from a kind of oblivious privilege that is nearly (though not absolutely) impossible in a person with membership in any kind of targeted group.
It’s not just race, of course, that makes the difference. It’s not even just gender and sexual orientation and class and other categories, protected and not, that seem to construct differences inside our communities. It feels – mind you I can’t know this, but it certainly FEELS – like it’s a moment when race and class and gender got gently set aside in favor of the larger question, “What (and whom) is the federal government for?”
And people looked at Sandy and the 11th anniversary of 9⁄11 and the servicemen and servicewomen still in harm’s way a decade after the fact and the collapse of the economy under the weight of rich white men’s greed, and they went, “Oh. The government is supposed to protect us from the worst of mother nature and of human nature, so that we can all get on with our lives.”
But we could only put aside class and race and gender if that question of what (and whom) the government is for felt more important than the question of who deserves what. And apparently in 2012 lots of people blinked and shook their heads and thought, “A job is a job and love is love.” A lot of people seem to have recognized that it doesn’t matter what genitals your spouse has or what your nation your parents came from; you’re just as dead when someone shoots you and just as homeless when your roof caves in.
And I think a big part of why people could make that shift is that they see a family of color in the white house. They see a black dude with kind, intelligent eyes who spontaneously tells the nervous lady during the town hall debate, “You’re doing great!” And I think that seeing him, day after day, really trying to build stable solutions to problems created by the rich white men, helped everybody relax a little and go, “A job is a job. Love is love.”
It’s a difficult shift, and I’m daring to hope it will last more than the next 4 years.
‘kay, I’m gonna go back to writing the book now.