Through the race-stained lens of the Democratic nomination race I am a Brown American. I have many American friends. But today they are apparently White Americans, Black Americans, Brown Americans, Red Americans, and Yellow Americans. I do not have enough buckets to store and segregate my friends of many hues and many colors. Repeatedly and often I mix colors and leave out the qualifier and focus on my American friends.
It is not that I don’t see the colors. I do. I am often reminded – sometimes quite harshly – of my own color and my own place in the fabric of a society that, like other societies, is struggling to unify and coexist.
If you want to cut me up and label me, there are other favorites of the day. I am a Muslim American. I am an Immigrant American. Then there are others which don’t quite fit the stereotype. I am white-collar. I am college educated. I am a suburban elite.
I am a pollster’s dream. I can check off many boxes at one time. I am a cross-sample.
I am also a voter. Once I am in the voting booth, I am reduced once again to an American – no qualifiers. My vote counts – not one half, not three-fifths. I get one whole vote – the same vote as a White American, Black American, Red American or Yellow American.
When the Democratic nomination battle whittled down to two, the Democrats had made history. For the first time in American history, either a woman or an African American would be the nominee of a major political party. The Democrats had two strong candidates and it felt like either way it would be a giant leap forward for this nation. It was also sobering. It was inevitable that when the Democrats finally fielded their nominee, sexism or racism would rear its ugly head. It would not be easy to push past this barrier in American public life. It would not be easy for either a woman or an African American to rise to the most powerful position in the world. However, if it happened it would be truly historic and a testament to the strength of American democracy.
I have great affection for President Bill Clinton. And I had similar affection for the former First Lady. So I was undecided as to who I would favor. All that changed after South Carolina.
What began as race baiting in South Carolina has reached its sad and tragic depths today. In trolling for votes in West Virginia, Hillary Clinton has chosen the path of division. It started with her surrogates on Tuesday night, and continued with her campaign strategists on Wednesday morning and has now reached its filthy bottom with the candidate herself. Hillary Clinton has declared herself the candidate of the White people – White Americans. The working, hard-working, White Americans. She said:
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
"There’s a pattern emerging here," she said.
It is a deliberate strategy by the Clinton campaign. It is shameful.
I chose to support Barack Obama after South Carolina. All my life I have grown up searching for Bobby Kennedy – someone with the vision for a better tomorrow and with the intellect and the commitment to make that tomorrow happen. After South Carolina I found him. Here was a man who saw within our grasp a more unified nation, who had the strength to lead this nation forward, and who had the strength to battle the inevitable challenges that would be thrown our way. His vision – a tomorrow that I want for my seven-year-old daughter – was that we are not White Americans, Black Americans, Brown Americans, Red Americans, or Yellow Americans; that we are not red states or blue states; that we are the United States of America.
Barack Obama envisioned an ideal for America that is basic and foundational – that inspired a movement and is now poised to change this nation and this world. Beyond the policy positions and the hard work of putting policy into action, Obama offered a unifying vision. I support his vision and his candidacy for the most selfish of reasons. I support it for my daughter and her future.
Barack Obama need not have had a monopoly on this vision. Hillary Clinton had the opportunity to also move this country in that direction. But, sadly, the arc of her candidacy went in the opposite direction. What could have been an inspiring campaign instead succumbed to the baser instincts of race baiting and the politics of division.
I do not want to live in Hillary Clinton’s America. I do not want my daughter to grow up in Hillary Clinton’s America. I want to live in the United States of America. As this country tries to move forward toward racial equality, I do not want a presidential candidate to pit White against Black – one race against another – for a few extra votes. I want a candidate who can inspire this nation to move toward its promise and its ideals, not away from them. Hillary Clinton has embarrassed herself as she desperately tries to hold on to a fantasy. She has become a race baiter on the biggest stage of them all – on the campaign trail for the presidency of the United States. She has embarrassed this country and debased its ideals.
This Brown American – this American – wants her to stop.