Saturday, March 29, 2008

Alice Walker Says It Better

I was debating whether I wanted to post anything or not but this article by Alice Walker is too good not to at least try to share with as many people as are willing to read it.

I have a long personal history with Ms. Walker, one-sided as it is, going back 20 some years when she planted the seed that led me to end my first marriage and I still owe her for that one. Yes, sometimes it does matter if they can't understand what a book (or in the current case a speech or an essay) means to you or why.

When I was born in 1944 my parents lived on a middle Georgia plantation that was owned by a white distant relative, Miss May Montgomery. (During my childhood it was necessary to address all white girls as "Miss" when they reached the age of twelve.) She would never admit to this relationship, of course, except to mock it. Told by my parents that several of their children would not eat chicken skin she responded that of course they would not. No Montgomerys would.

My parents and older siblings did everything imaginable for Miss May. They planted and raised her cotton and corn, fed and killed and processed her cattle and hogs, painted her house, patched her roof, ran her dairy, and, among countless other duties and responsibilities my father was her chauffeur, taking her anywhere she wanted to go at any hour of the day or night. She lived in a large white house with green shutters and a green, luxuriant lawn: not quite as large as Tara of Gone With the Wind fame, but in the same style.

We lived in a shack without electricity or running water, under a rusty tin roof that let in wind and rain. Miss May went to school as a girl. The school my parents and their neighbors built for us was burned to the ground by local racists who wanted to keep ignorant their competitors in tenant farming. During the Depression, desperate to feed his hardworking family, my father asked for a raise from ten dollars a month to twelve. Miss May responded that she would not pay that amount to a white man and she certainly wouldn't pay it to a nigger. That before she'd pay a nigger that much money she'd milk the dairy cows herself.

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves. By Alice Walker

Just a few highlights, she has much more to say and all well worth clicking over to read.


R J Adams said...

Truly, a worthy read. Thank you for the link.

Vigilante said...

Walker does say it better. But Walker does not change my voting preference. I will not be voting for the Democrat who feels she is the most entitled. I will be voting for the candidate who's going to be qualified on Day 1. If not over-qualified.

Not Your Mama said...

RJ: you have your blog back up yet?

Vigilante: huh? Wasn't really the point of the post though I suppose it could be. Doubt anyone on either side is going to change their mind at this point. Clearly you fall into the "does not understand why a piece of writing means so much to me" camp but s'ok, we loves you anyway.

Anonymous said...


Jim Yeager said...

A little while ago, I wrote a post in which I likened Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech to MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, in the sense that both acknowledged that we can do much better than we're currently doing. In one way, Obama went beyond King -- his speech is the only one acknowledging both white resentment and black anger that I know of, and he delievered both of those parts in the same level-headed and adult manner in which he delivered the rest of the speech. For the first time since I've heard of him, he genuinely impressed me. If this man, upon being sworn in, can pick Cabinet members with the same wisdom, understanding, and intelligence he displayed in that one speech, then America will be in good hands for four years.

And then there's Hillary Clinton. What does she do in response to Obama's speech of a lifetime? She sits down with, of all right-wing assholes, Richard Mellon Scaife, in a desperate attempt to shore up her failing candidacy. That's pathetic.

I've heard of lots of cases where good people wound up turning into the monsters they were battling. Until last week, I'd never heard of one breaking bread with such a monster...

Not Your Mama said...

Jim: your posts on how you are feeling towards white America and about being white hit very close to home for me also. I could only add how I am currently feeling towards other white women at this time and it ain't purty.

Rather like a pen full of pigs, you can throw a bucket of slop or the finest cuisine in the world to them and the pigs can't tell the difference.

TomCat said...

Race or gender is certainly not the reason to choose a candidate, but rather, whether or not that candidate strikes a chord that resonates within your being. You seem to have found such a resonance with Obama and not without good cause.

Myrna the Minx said...

Ahh, Alice. Makes me want to reread The Third Life of Granger Copeland.