Michelle Obama: Those Who Say: “I Ain’t Voting For No Nigger”

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I hoped it wouldn’t come into being. But, in my bones I knew this was coming. But, it was still like taking an unexpected gut-shot to the spirit.

I was at a Starbucks yesterday, not a normal occurrence for me. I mostly stay in the cave. But, as I’ve mentioned here on TMV before, I am trying to learn to draw. So, I went with my conte and pages to draw passersby out the window at Starbucks.

… and there at a table, four men were discussing the remark that Michelle Obama made about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life…

Suddenly one of the four men burst out loudly: “I ain’t voting for no nigger!”

The entire Starbucks of all women patrons and wait-staff went into stop-motion. Silence. Were these guys miscreants, mentally-ill wanderers? No. They appeared to be just four businessmen, two middle-aged, two younger, talking out of their minds over their coffee cups, and laughing about ‘niggers.’

I sensed that if, “I ain’t voting for no nigger,” is said boldly by one person in a public place, by someone who rightly or wrongly feels no fear of confrontation or retaliation, then you can be sure, it is being said aloud elsewhere by thousands more.

Certainly there is much talk today about ‘what Michelle Obama’ said, and really meant. Many kinds of talk and opinion… various people have been discussing or debating or just flatly carrying on about what Michelle Obama meant or didn’t mean, and weighing in on her character, brainpower, heart, or lack of such, etc. (Her husband, later said she meant her words more narrowly with regard to the political process wherein people stood up for change.)

My thoughts however, keep returning to another matter entirely. I’m not new to scabrous words. This man’s outburst at Starbucks is not the first, but merely the elevendy-millionth time as a woman from a minority group myself, I’ve heard such or been felled by such words personally.

BUT, especially since being flash-shot by this man at Starbucks bellowing about “a nigger only gonna be president over my dead and burning body,” ….I rode the Time Machine back over the many decades I’ve be blessed to live thus far, and I see, with immediacy, how far we’ve come in this nation… meaning, that yes, any of us minority persons can be objected to publicly nowadays, and called names out loud, in print, in front of and behind backs….

but NOT immediately and with full looking away by all authorities and cronies, be dragged to the dark of the woods and dealt an ‘inch of one’s life’ beating, or death with finality, there…

when I count the changes of consciousness in law enforcement in many parts of our country, the changes in appellate court sight and insight, the plethora of ways eye-witness news is nowadays availed and delivered, the tireless souls who keep driving for justice for those unjustly treated….

then I am reminded for the uncountable-eth number of times in my life, that such as this man’s outburst at Starbucks, may in fact, represent progress.

Many of us wish, deeply, for FAR more than this kind of ‘progress’ for all of us on earth. But, I think strongly we have to also count even the smallest progressions. 5% here, 2.5 % there, .01% over there: They begin to add up to substance and movement. Some think ‘change’ is something that happens all at once. Most often not. Small increments, whole walls assailed by water time and again, give way. Water can and will wear through stone.

I don’t know that I can ever embrace ‘niggerspicswaztikajapwhiteykike’ talk as some mere cultural oddity. But I find it better, if such can be said, to see disgust and hatred and fear above ground in full daylight, even at such a usually phlegmatic Starbucks, than hidden and larded away in secrecy, wrapped with rage and viper’s breath, and acted out on innocent others in the dark.

Whether via the internet, in public places, or in private… I’d count this public marking of where levels of inhumanity still thrive, and in the most BANAL of places, as a significant veering away from ‘what once was’ considered the only option: The deadly one.

I grew up mere miles from where the KuKluxKlan was founded. It used to be Death of any person deemed insulting, unworthy, irritating, and/or expendable just for the fact that they lived, walked, spoke, thought as they do… all dispatching of persons by brutal means done in secret, undercover, away from ‘do-gooders’ and the ‘misguided’ who would risk their lives to intervene in such injustice.

Yes, it’s different now. Not secret. Easy to mark with red flares. Easy to note. Yet, still in need of vigilance.

Maybe it’s an ultimate irony that the screed-fest unleashed by some regarding Mrs. Obama’s words, perhaps poorly-fleshed out by her at the time… is actually an improvement, a seeming toothless one, over the immediate death sentence that used to be pressed on any outspoken person, poor white, black, Latino, or other.

Maybe at last a significant majority understands and holds to the idea, all posturing to the contrary aside, that bridges have never been made for hanging people, but that bridges are meant to hold both sides in even tension… so that people can cross to the other side, so that people can know and see what they have not known or beheld before… something new, something different, and hopefully something usefully good.

I know you’re maybe wondering what I said to the four men at the table. They were so close to my table I could have reached out and touched two on the shoulder. In moments like those, I think any sane person would have acted like I did. I thought, Why me, God? How come no one else is saying anything? Heartbeat, heartbeat. Then I thought, How do I know they aren’t going to beat me up outside? Heartbeat, heartbeat. Besides, I likely can’t change their minds about this or anything else. Then I heard my grandmother speaking to me: You can never tell outcomes; just speak.

I didn’t think anymore then. I just gulped and smiled sweetly and leaned directly toward the men, excusing myself, saying that I was sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhearing their conversation and I just wanted to make sure it was okay that I was sitting near them, for I have black blood, like most Latino Catholics who once were Jews from Moorish Spain, not to mention the African slave trade to the east coast of Mexico in the 1500s and 1600s.

Heartbeat, heartbeat.

The men stared me up and down. Silence.

Then, one man: You don’t look black.

I said Yes, there are a lot of people who carry black blood who don’t look like they do. I said, “But, we’re hidden everywhere. Especially in lighter-skinned people.” (I wasn’t going to say this next, but I could hear my grandmother goading me, Say it, say it aloud. So, I did…) “Like you and me, for instance…”

Your Dr E, I am afraid, went on then. On and on. Do you ever have those moments where you can’t stop speaking even though another part of you is going, stop stop, you’re going to get us in trouble….but there’s yet a strong imperative to speak, one way beyond the merely human…

So, I told the men words pretty close to these ……

You never know who is what. Why, one of my daughters was talking to me about mitochondrial DNA the other day and she said that you can now test the males of the family and find out all kinds of things about their blood lines, and it is becoming less and less expensive to do so, and soon, wouldn’t that be something, likely many people are going to be quite surprised about their actual bloodlines, but you know, maybe that will be helpful and bring us more together and….

The men squinted and kind of went blinkless while I was riffing, and suddenly they all seemed to remember they had a very important group appointment all the way across town and were late and they packed up their briefcases and took their coffee with them and actually left before I was done with my last sentence.

I don’t know, maybe words can act like an exorcism without meaning to. I packed up and left a minute after the men pulled away, just kept my eyes down and got into my pickup, thinking a little insanely, ‘my work must be done here.’

Was anything accomplished? I don’t know. Likely I’ll never know. But maybe 1% here or there, in someone other than the four men, maybe someone who overheard, but maybe one of the men in his right heart will remember a snippet of what was said years from now and it will be a blessing on him, or maybe someone who hears the story here….

All I know for now about Michelle Obama or anyone else, is, I ain’t voting for no good soul to go silent. Even when they have to call on extra cojones or ovarios from the angels in order to speak about what some deem, unspeakable.

________
Columnist Shaun Mullen here on the differing kinds of expression blogwise re Michelle Obama’s statement.

Also see Amba’s excellent commentary and wide ranging referencese to various reactions re Michelle Obama’s recently released undergraduate thesis.

  

Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

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128 Comments

  1. Yea thats bad but what about the young blacks that sit next to you on the train and every-other word is NIGGER this and NIGGER that. I wonder why all the white women are scared to death to say a word to them as well as men also. Knowing if you did a 16 year old will pull out a gun and end your life for nothing. At least in the 40s-60s our fathers new if a NIGGER dared to confront a white person they would at least get the shit beat out of them or possibly hung and burned like a “Strange Fruit”. great song

  2. Yea thats bad but what about the young blacks that sit next to you on the train and every-other word is NIGGER this and NIGGER that. I wonder why all the white women are scared to death to say a word to them as well as men also. Knowing if you did a 16 year old will pull out a gun and end your life for nothing. At least in the 40s-60s our fathers new if a NIGGER dared to confront a white person they would at least get the shit beat out of them or possibly hung and burned like a “Strange Fruit”. great song

  3. Yea thats bad but what about the young blacks that sit next to you on the train and every-other word is NIGGER this and NIGGER that. I wonder why all the white women are scared to death to say a word to them as well as men also. Knowing if you did a 16 year old will pull out a gun and end your life for nothing. At least in the 40s-60s our fathers new if a NIGGER dared to confront a white person they would at least get the shit beat out of them or possibly hung and burned like a “Strange Fruit”. great song

  4. Racist people are so ignorant.
    Y'all hate Michelle/Barack for being black?
    What shallow idiots.

    BUSH is the one you should hate.

  5. Racist people are so ignorant.
    Y'all hate Michelle/Barack for being black?
    What shallow idiots.

    BUSH is the one you should hate.

  6. Racist people are so ignorant.
    Y'all hate Michelle/Barack for being black?
    What shallow idiots.

    BUSH is the one you should hate.

  7. I think we should vote for a guy because he uses the word “change” often. Reminds me of a 2-year old espousing the word “cookie”.

    Will the real Obama please stand up. Check out the facts on his past on http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?…

  8. While we're on the subject of racism, can any one of you liberal geniuses out there tell me:
    1) How often does the Congressional White Caucus meet?
    2) What channel in White Entertainment Television on?
    3) What benefits can I get from the National Association for the Advancement of White People?

    Sound ridiculous? It sure does. Yet all you liberals seem to accept the Congressional Black Caucus, BET, and NAACP without question. Who is perpetuating racism in America? Racist niggers like Jessee Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jerimiah Wright, Michelle Obama, and Raechel above. I rest my case, Your Honor.

  9. Aguila. GOOD JOB. You know, all through my military career, civilian career and all the places I've been in the U.S. have I ever not heard black people openly use some form of racism. True too is the simple fact that black comedians constantly refer to whites as dumb and constantly use the word NIGGER. Of course NIGGER hardly ever gets bleeped out. It's acceptable as long as a black says it. You know, blacks should really start learning to appreciate whites more. I mean, most of the tax monies go to help them supposedly advance. Advance in what, stupidity? But, I guess we're really the stupid ones. It's so funny how the majority of people believe that blacks are the deprived minority. Wake-up you damned dumb fools!!! Take any average white guy and see if he can qualify for what the government has for handouts. Are you done researching? Yeah, shouldn't have taken long. That's right, there are none. But, take any average black guy and see what he can qualify for. Ahhhh. WOW!!!! Look at all of these grants, free housing, free insurance $3500 towards a car so he can try to get a job, free schooling for him and his children, free food (foodstamps) and reimbursement for using public transportation and the list goes on…. But who pays for all of these “HANDOUTS” for the blacks??? Yeah, that's right, the working white class!!! “Oh, those poor deprived black people. They only steal, market drugs,rape and commit more crimes than any other race in the U.S. because we enslaved them over 100 years ago. We should tax the crapt out everyone who works for a living and give 60% of those taxed dollars to those poor, confused and deprived black people”. Ha ha. Oh, how about the state tests. Lets see. I, along with 14 other people took the test to get in to the state prison for employment. Funny thing. I scored a 94%, second highest score to a younger white guy who had a 98%. There were 2 positions open. I should have been given the job. Guess what? They went to the 7th highest scorer, a black guy, for the second job. Why? I was told this right from the representatives mouth, “I'm sorry Mr. ———, but we had to give your opportunity to the black gentleman, Mr. ———. He only scored a 76% but we can grace (them) up to a 20% curve. I do apologize and we will hang on to your score record for another 30 days in case we get an opening.” I'm a veteran and he was not. He gets a 20% curve for being a fully upright ape. What a bunch of bull!!!! Oh yes, they are so deprived. We should give them more. All of the white working class should just send their entire damned check every week to the NAACP !!!!! Yes, be stupid, vote for Obama, so that all the blacks don't riot and burn every town and city to the ground because they didn't get their way, be afraid dumb white people, be afraid of what the blacks will do to you and your home if the great BLACK MOSSIAH doesn't get elected. You stupid chicken crapt morons. Be a real hero for your own children, friends, relatives and yourself. Vote with your own mind not because you're afraid of the blacks or you feel that they need a chance to lead. Wake-up!!! Come on. They have been openly leading and dictating just about every damn thing in this country for sometime, around the mid-seventies actually, now. Look how screwed up things get when you turn a bunch of baboons into the mix. You get a jungle!!!

  10. Shut the fuck up u dumb nigger bitch u fucking spook the reason there are ghettos is cuz of u fuckin shines dirty filthy fucks, your like a fuckin desease that just keeps spreading every city u step in is fuckin ruined, who the fuck in their right mind would want to live with u fuckin filthy pigs, i i were those men and u comfronted me id smack the fucking taste outta ur mouth, i hope theres another civil war so we can get rid of u fucking dirty coons. Go back to africa. And if niggerama does win he'll probably get shot anyway dumb bitch, fuckin niggers have more rights than whites wtf. fuck u i hope u all fuckin die women children all u dirty fucking grease monkeys.

  11. Dr david duke u are a real hero in my eyes, as for voting for and idiot it wont be me bacause , im not afraid of fucking apes they bleed just like everyone else, i hope they do riot , itll just give people like me a reason to clean up fuckin shop.

  12. you didnt do shit u =dumb fuck, ur a pussie just like everyone else go tell your war stories somewhere else, id smack the shit outta u if u even ever attempted to kick or stab me that would be the end of your miserable being. Go die and rot somewhere. pussy.

  13. This story and many of these comments make me very sad. I disagree with both Obama's–I believe what Michelle meant was what she said–I think her husband is a socialist bent on transforming this county into a more European style socialist state–I'm not going to vote for him–Not because he's black though, but because we could not be more polar opposites when it comes to the way I feel our Country should be run. I'm a hardcore Liberatarian with anarcho-capitolist leanings and have descided to go with McCain.

    I do however give credit where credit is due–Senetor and Mrs. Obama are a credit to Black Americans everywhere and I am happy that we as a nation have finally taken another step to be a more inclusive society.

    as for the guy that said that WORD in Starbucks–he's an idiot–as for the rest of you who can't seem to say anything even remotely intellegent — let it go– If that's all you can think of to say I feel so sorry for you–your lives must be so barren of any substance. Do us all a favor you have proven it here that you are far to ignornat to exercise you right to to vote–so don't I know Senetor McCain doesn't want your support so really there's no point–crawl back underneath the rock from whence you came.

  14. I have tried to wade through most of the opinions and keep an open mind about things. But living in North East Texas where it is so plain to see who is voting for who. You can ride through any neighborhood and just know by the sign in the yard if a black or white person lives there. When you drive through a prominate black area all you see is Obama signs, its the same with McCain in the white neighborhoods. This election is NOT about who can help our country, its about race.

    On the subject of race. I have been privileged to live all over this great country and will tell you one thing. I have met lots of people, some white, some black and a few niggers. I hope you caught what I'm trying to say. You don't have to be black to be a nigger. Some of the sorriest humans I ever met were white. If your not contributing to the better good of this country and your living off our tax dollars, Im sorry but your a nigger.

    Randy

  15. Obama is a liar, he will not do as he says. There is no experience at the executive level, being a senator for a short time does not give experience to lead the country. It’s pathetic that there are so many persons that may vote for obama because he is black not because of the skill set.. or the severe lack there of! No way will I or any persons I know will vote for Obama. Stop pissing and moaning about being black, your no longer a minority… facts are the white population is the minority after considering the Black, and Mexican population. Keep in mind over half are not in the stats due to the fact they are illegal and are ghosted in surveys. We can’t have white TV, it’s racist! That’s pathetic that there are people like u crying about being black but the white population is so restricted cuz what we do or say may be racist, it’s only going to get worse with a black man in the white house. I say right on to the guys in the coffee shop at least they have the balls to say what they feel, after all it’s suppose to be equal rights. Remember the blacks that beat the white truck driver in LA? Probably not.. He was white. If it was a black man we would be hearing it for 30 years. Stop the pity party are you not educated to the fact the whites where the first slaves in Rome? You must accept the fact cuz they are not going to change. There are a lot of people out there that are sick of all the whining, NAACP and all the other black watchdogs. Like I said when the whites that are gathered get fed up enough its not going to be pleasant.
    Tired of The Whining. How long do you think he will last before the extremists get hold of him? They are out there.

  16. Guess what? I ain't voting for a nigger either.

  17. To all my white brothers and sisters… Lord help us all.

    Most important to watch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....&feat

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....&feat

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....&feat

    The truth is the truth and cannot be denied.
    There is a very liberal social and political change
    taking place not only in American but throughout the world.

    Yes I am proudly a middle aged white man that has gradually seen our
    homogenized country go down the tubes. A recipe for disaster like every other
    great white society of the past… has been diluted by mongralization and non homogeny.

    Thank god I do not have children that will be required to live in the declination
    of a mixed and falling america and/or Europe. Nor will I be around to see it.

    Sincerely

    .

  18. When u talk like that, it sounds to me that ur nothing less but a goddamn MF nigger who hates being born a nigger and tries to spread around ur own self-contempt. U should go to Africa too, u nasty piece of shit ! Or else go to Iraq and get killed. America doesn't need people like you*** Go Mc Cain 08 !!!

  19. The Ku Klux Klan was started to combat yankee asswipes and their tools the former Negro slaves to destroy what was left of the South. We need another uprising like those former Klansmen were doing in 1865.

  20. This was obviously a lot of bullshit put out by some wetback spic who hates the white man and is on the same side as the nigger shine……at least for now.

  21. David Duke……I couldn't agree with you more. You're 100% correct.

  22. Racism is equal now days. White people are discriminated against just as much as blacks. Yes, there is white people that are very racist against blacks, but at the same time there are just as many racist black people. When a white person says the word “nigger” its a big deal and everybody flips out about it. why? because black people are sensitive to that word. But when a black person calls me a cracker or something else similar, its no big deal. what if im sensitive to being called a cracker? black people can call white people whatever they want and its never racist, but if I call a black person a nigger im a terrible person. I dont know about you but i dont understand that. If black people want white people to respect them enough to not call them niggers then they should give white people the same respect and not call them names. Youre supposed to treat others how you like to be treated. so as long as black people can say cracker, whitey, or whatever else they call white people, i dont see anything wrong with a white man saying nigger… do you?

  23. Phocknigs left a comment on TMV that did not merely go over the line it justifies something I do not do: immediate banning. Racist comments (this was not even a close call) is not welcome on TMV and we don’t allow language like that here.

  24. Fuck all you niggers. Go back to fucking Africa, you horses asses. Take your bullshit back home, we don't want you here in OUR country, you fucking niggers.

  25. I would have to agree with you, I'm racist to a degree for example there is a difference in between niggers and black people, I have many black friends but there are people who degrade and deficate our city streets turning them into shithole crime infested cities, ex Baltimore, Philly, D.C, Seriously just drive to one of these places and you will see what I am talking about, even down in salisbury maryland where I live, there have been many crimes recently mainly blacks and mexicans, example, there were 3 black kids, 2 girls 19 and 16 and then a boy who was 16, they asked a white girl for a ride home she gave it to them, as they went home the niggers started to demand things from her then they pulled a knife out on her and stabbed her, she died in a field using her last breath to call the cops, why did she die? hmm. because some nigger decided that he needed a small amount of cash, niggers have no value for human life and will kill without mercy, another example there was a decent hard working black man around 25 years old who worked his way up from the bottom well 3 niggers decided one night that they needed some money so they find this guy on a random street and for no reason start beating the shit out of him, they killed him that night and when his family went to go identify the body, the only way they could identify it was through fingerprints because his face was so horribly smashed in that they couldnt tell who it is, this guy is now dead because some niggers decided it was time to make 20 dollars and couldnt give a fuck how they got it, there have also been multiple robberies in salisbury, niggers walking around looking for people at night to threaten with baseball bats and take peoples stuff. In my family my 13 year old cousin was raped by a nigger who was 40 in NC, the list can go on and on and on, I'm not going to say it's just blacks though because I have some really good black friends, in fact I think I know just as many white and mexican niggers as I do black.

  26. until black america can quit acting like a pack of animals and stop thinking that America owes them, you're right this will never be an equal country. get a job , get off welfare, quit blaming the past for your troubles. i am an american indian if you want to talk about the past.

  27. Blacks are more racist than white folk these days, Name a black that did not vote for Obama because he's black. If Obama did not have the white vote he would have flat lost big-time.

  28. To me a niggger is nothing but a lazy ungrateful asshole. It doesn't matter what their skin color is.

    Niggers suck, that's all there is to it.

    Find something else to fixate on, like for instance the government creating a permanent welfare society for the white and black niggers of America.

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