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Lynne White

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Why We Take This Presidency Personally

Posted: 08/03/11 03:17 PM ET

I canʼt believe what I just heard on CNN...

John King, a smart and unbiased journalist, just doing his job. He showed a graph of would be presidential election voters. He said as of now 52 percent of whites will vote Republican. They will not vote for Barack Obama! Yes he was talking about the debt ceiling fallout and doing a great job describing it, but today it felt different -- it felt personal. Why are we taking polls as to how whites would vote a year and a half before a presidential election? Why is a voterʼs skin color even important? Maybe I am hearing too much ʻblackʼ people this and ʻwhiteʼ people that.

Whatever happened to the melting pot theory? What happened to the premise of equality and integration. When did it become OK to talk about how white people would vote versus blacks or Hispanics? Does the great racial divide still define us? We have in the White House our first black President. Every day there is a new racial label or slur that makes its way into the national discourse. It seems, in some ways, we have taken a giant step backward. On this day, word that a Republican congressman made a tar-baby reference to Obama, and no real surprise, but alarming, Pat Buchanan blogged that when it came to the debt ceiling battle the tea partierʼs had "nailed the coonskin to the wall." Are you serous? He later went on MSNBC and called the president a "boy." He said it to the wrong person. The anchor was Al Sharpton.

Sometimes I wonder what place and time we are living in. Since when did racism become acceptable? Since when did people feel empowered to use racial slurs to describe a U.S. president? I know when you are on top you are the target, but what happened to respect? If you want to take the progress of this country back 60 years, continue to pretend that these things are just words that ʻweʼ people shouldnʼt be so sensitive. Please donʼt pretend that these things donʼt matter. They do. This is America.

We have already fought the civil war, we have died in bombings and the protests of the '60s. Now for the first time we have a duly elected man of color as our nationʼs leader. Do you understand that when you discredit him, you discredit all of us, because his hope, his promise, his dream -- this whole miracle of Barack Obama as the 44th president, made us all feel different. It was a "look how far we have come" moment.

Please donʼt take us back to that painful place of ʻthem against us.ʼ Itʼs just out-dated, or is it? Did talk radio and the right-wing TV network legitimize racism? If so, itʼs time to take a look at the visceral damage that itʼs done and understand we are all in this together. When one hurts, we all hurt. He is ʻyourʼ president, those who hate him; he is ʻourʼ president, those of us who ʻgetʼ him or who are ʻofʼ him. When you take a national poll why does it have to be delineated racially?

Can we go back to the aspiration of a ʻUnited Statesʼ of America? Itʼs for the good of all of us black, white and purple. Hope, it still lives.

Hate the leader of us all, and, yes, we will take it very personally.