Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Whites Voting For A Black Man?
by James Glaser
June 20, 2008

I still remember the first time I saw a black man come up to where I lived in Northern Minnesota. I was in the restaurant, and this black guy comes in to have lunch. Nobody said anything, but you have to remember he was probably the first man of his race to come to this town ever.

This was a few years ago, pre-cell phone days, so somebody must have used the restaurant phone, because in a few minutes the owner's wife was up there with her kids so they could see an African American in person. The only other way these kids could see one was on the television or at a movie.

So now I am living in Tallahassee, Florida, and down here about a third of the population is African American, and I would guess the other two thirds are European American. Moving down here I had no idea of how the two races really got along, but now after two years I can say most people from both races get along just fine, but there are a few bad apples on both sides.

I do know when something bad happens to some black child, a lot of white people get real worried about riots. They tell me that fear is ingrained in them from their past. I would have to say that many black people have that same type of fear from their past, too.

Well, now we have a black man, Barack Obama, running for President, and I have met many white people down here who are his staunch supporters. However, this week I noticed something that I hadn't thought of before. All the white people I know who are supporting Obama, moved here from some place else, and that some place else was either from up North or way out West.

Now admittedly, I haven't done any scientific poll, and I don't know hundreds of people supporting Obama, but I do know quiet a few. I ask "real" Southerners (those born and raised down here) what they think, and some say they are still thinking about it, but most say they just could not put an x or pull the lever for a African American for President.

Tallahassee has a black mayor, and most people here think he does a good job and a lot of white people had to vote for him in order for him to win, but many that I have talked to think being President is different.

Here is a surprise. A lot of white guys said they would vote for Obama over Hillary in a primary, because they think being President is a man's job. But if it comes down to voting for a white man or a black man for President, it really doesn't matter which man or which Party, they are voting white.

Most of the people I talk to grew up during the forced integration of schools down here, and maybe it the that age group that feels this way.

Another thing I noticed. In a group of people if somebody starts talking about how great Obama is, most people will agree. It is when you are talking one on one, just shooting the breeze with a guy, that he will come right out and tell you how he really feels.

Women? I have not a clue of how they are going to vote, but it really isn't just about women and their voting patterns that I haven't a clue about. Southern women, like Northern women, are hard to figure out, and I am married to one, but then I am not alone in thinking that either.

Southern men and Northern men can both agree on the fact that women are a real mystery. North and South, women are loved in both places, but beware of the man who claims that he understands anything at all about women.

So, right now I wouldn't bet that either John McCain or Barack Obama is going to take the South. I do think who ever wins, it will be real close. Maybe some of those white guys will think real hard and give Obama the nod, or they might just see those Stars and Bars on the back of a pickup, and vote the way their daddy would have.

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