Do white people ever feel bad about harboring racist attitudes? Do they ever regret how badly they have treated blacks? Do they ever stop to wonder how it feels for us black folks to be mistreated at will by any idiot who decides that white skin privilege alone gives him license to do so?
I have been thinking about this a lot during the election. It used to bother me terribly when the media folks or prospective white voters said of Barack Obama: "I don't know anything about him." What did they mean, I wondered? They knew almost as much as I knew because these were informed people who watched CNN and MSNBC. They read the major newspapers and news magazines. What did it mean to "know" Obama, I wondered.
All of this changed when Sarah Palin was given the place on the ticket with John McCain. Overnight, whites said Palin "is just like us." They adored her because she shared their values, and goals. I wondered how could they know that when they had only learned of her existence a day ago. If they knew her instantly, how could they not know Obama after his exposure on television for a year and a half?
Frustrated, I even ventured into the existential territory by asking myself, what does it mean to "know" someone at that level? Were there barriers to "knowing" based on gender and race, religion and culture?
Now comes an article by the Associated Press that announced that the Yahoo-Stanford University poll found that racial views steer some white Democrats away from Obama. In other words, whites who embrace negative racial stereotypes against blacks may vote for McCain solely on the basis of race. So, what else is new? Blacks are not likely to be surprised about this finding. We are accustomed to some whites who embrace us publicly but would cut our throats behind closed doors.
The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.
The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.
We must keep registering voters. Failing on that front, we can always pray!