Recently, I was riding the 3 bus toward York and Dauphin streets, and standing near the driver was a man wearing a vividly bright red T-shirt with Sen. Barack Obama’s face across the front. The phrase “Yes We Can” was written behind the presidential candidate’s face. The bus stopped to pick up a few passengers, a teenager boarded, slightly nudging the Obama supporter while saying, “Excuse me dawg.”
Enraged, the man yelled at the boy for referring to him as a “dawg.” “Don’t call me dawg, I ain’t your dawg,” the man shouted. “Go around me and call me ‘sir.’”
Two girls sitting to my left began yelling at the man, using slurs and making comments about his hair. Giggling with her friend, she continued to harass the man’s appearance and clothing.
“Why are you wearing an Obama shirt?” the loudest girl yelled. “You can’t wear that, when you can’t even practice what he says.”
Three men reprimanded the girls. One was so angry that his friend had to restrain him and tell him to walk away. A man in a wheelchair in front of me said, “You girls have had your fun, now knock it off.”
The girls were telling the man he couldn’t support Obama because he was rude to the boy, but the girls were harassing and being rude as well.
In an election where the ideas of change and hope have been central, are supporters even willing to try to exude the qualities the candidate embraces for America? If the girls on the bus agree with Obama’s values, why were they caught in the midst of insolence?
“Senator Obama’s presidential nomination is a historic occasion,” said political science professor Michael Hagen, “but it would be foolish to think that his nomination—or even his victory, should he win—will soon bring about the end of racial hostility.”
If Obama wins the White House, people cannot close their eyes in hope that one man can change the nation while they stay the same. That’s not how progress works.
“There is little we can do to affect a change in attitudes,” religion professor Jacob Kim said.
If this is true, what why do audiences at Obama’s rallies applaud every time they hear the word “change”?
Everybody wants to make the world a better place, but a presidential candidate’s inspirational persona provides just that: inspiration. It is not an act. It’s merely a notion.
Support for Obama is widespread, but his values and hopes for the people of America have been lost along the way. People that truly want everything he stands for should know the process starts from the ground up.
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.