But I'm shocked and stunned, nonetheless.
Because of a telphone call that came literally moments before CNN proclaimed the winner. The caller was a relative who lives far away; she is someone we see about every three years and have phone conversations with approximately four or five times each year.
I answered from the phone that does not have Caller ID, and her response to my "Hello" was "Well, did your candidate win?" I recognized the voice and replied, "It seems to be a little too early to tell. How are you?" She told me that it wasn't too early to tell, that the television station she watches had proclaimed the winner and wasn't it grand. I was uneasy at that point and mentioned that the outcome of this election was extra important to me because of the time I'd spent working at the campaign headquarters. When the caller learned which candidate I'd been supporting, I was the recipient of her scorn, her derision, her mockery -- "Well, I guess I should have talked to you sooner!" When she belittled me for voting for "a Muslim," I told her that her comment was so offensive that I wasn't going to continue the conversation and handed the phone to my husband.
I was shaking. Literally shaking.
At the school where I work, the Quakerism focus during this entire academic year has been on the theme of Equality. We have looked at racism; we have danced around anti-Semitism. We have begun to acknowledge that as liberal as we believe ourselves to be, there are seeds of racism within us. We have begun to look at the fact that as middle-class white Americans, we are persons of privilege. We have recognized that privilege carries responsibility. We have begun to understand that -- unlike many others -- those of us who are white do not have an awareness of our whiteness at all times. There are more than 150 employees here, and almost everyone has been moved, has grown, from our work together.
One of the joyful pieces of my experience at Obama for America these past weeks has been the equality. As a white middle-aged (dare I still claim "middle-aged" or should I perhaps be acknowledging "older"?) woman, I walked into that office on the first day with a little trepidation. My experience with blacks outside of my Quaker environment has been a perception that I am regarded with caution and sometimes with suspicion, because I am a white, middle-class person. This is understandable. But there was none of that in the campaign office. I spent my late afternoons elbow-to-elbow, eye-to-eye, with all ages and colors of folks, and we worked as one, and regarded each other as sisters and brothers. It seemed to me that simply because I was there, I had passed a test.
I experienced a welcoming solidarity, a togetherness and a unity, a pulling together for something so much more important than ourselves; something I have never known before.
So I was vulnerable last night when the phone rang. I knew it was going to be an emotional evening, and declined an invitation to watch the returns with my own sister, thinking I'd be better off in the privacy of my own home. I was totally unprepared for the intrusion that blasted me.
Harkening back to Luther and his admonition to ascribe the best possible explanation to our neighbor's (relative's?) offenses, maybe my relative wasn't trying to be mean, hurtful, and racist. Maybe she wasn't gloating but instead, trying to be funny. If so, in my vulnerability, I missed the subtlety of her humor.