". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008


I’ve been so sick that at all the many plans I had for this happy election day have evaporated.

My across-the-hall neighbor was waiting when our polling place opened at 6 AM and it took her an hour and a half. But I did vote, post the before-work crowd, before the lunch time surge. I'd have to have been dead not to have voted in this election. It took about a half hour.

Our polling place is at a vocational high school that is all African American and Hispanic African students, teachers and administration. Usually on election days we white and Asian folks, who are the vastly predominate population in this part of our city, don’t even register on their awareness. Today though, very sharply dressed young male students were seated on the steps of one of the school’s doors that opens to the sidewalk that feeds the voters to the polling area. Very softly one asked, “Obama?” We smiled and thumbs-upped. Huge grins spread across their faces and they high-fived, along with “AhIIIte!”

Our precinct was organized and things moved quickly. However the district had put some other precincts into our place, and those lines didn't move so quickly, and some of them were very long. One of the machines malfunctioned. The usual.

The feeling among everyone -- the poll workers, the students, the voters, was so pleasant. People smiling at each other. Many had brought their small children. The new, youngest voters often came in groups of friends. People were patient, but more than this, they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. This part of the city it's fairly safe to believe that most of us are solidly blue, so it's been a long time since we've had anything to be happy about politically, and since 9/11 -- and we are part of the voting area that are just outside of Ground Zero, and we were deeply affected by that, progressively more so. We protested the invasion of Iraq from the gitgo.

Our part of the city is one of the places to which freedmen and women flowed during and post the Civil War, to work in the textile factories and sweat shops that were here. We’re also only blocks east of the old wharfs (which were very busy in those days), and the warehouses serviced by the railroads. Many New York state's people of color had already been working over there. The oldest continuing operating business/building in the city is there, now called the Ear Inn, but was the James Brown House, that serviced the black labor force employed on the docks and the railroads, and provided rooms too. The building we live in was thrown up originally to provide housing for this influx up from the South. All this felt very close to us today.

Our local, the corner French bistro, is owned by an immigrant Egyptian Copt family. The oldest brother hugged me in front of his place. He voted before coming in from New Jersey. "I get off at 5 today. I'm going home. I'm turning the television. I am having a big bottle of scotch sitting next to me, and I am having a party."

Another Update

Massive lines in so many places here, and this is a solidly blue region. If you wanted to skip this election because of illness or other hardship, you wouldn't be betraying the Cause. However, it seems this election is also about the massive repudiation of the American people of the last 8 years and those who are responsible for them. We all want to contribute to that repudiation, and in the company of our fellow human beings. So we are voting, no matter what.

I'm a lot happier about this country than I've been in many years. Also, this time around, if it doesn't turn out the way I want, I cannot blame the candidate or the party. We have a magnificent candidate and he did everything right. Just witnessing someone on Our Side (however you fall on the center - left spectrum, he does fall on our side) doing everything right, particularly when They have been so successful at doing everything wrong on purpose as their goal and objective, is a comfort.


Mariamariacuchita said...

What a beautiful description of the inner city. Despite being sick, you voted...very cool. Feel better.

Foxessa said...

No, this isn't the 'inner city.' No way could I claim that.

This is Manhattan, and lower NYC, which includes the Financial District. Can't get further from 'inner city,' of somewhere like Cleveland than this.

NYC is different from just about any other U.S. city in that its center, like Paris, has always belonged to the wealthy and powerful, and now, so does the lower city, which belongs to the wealthy and powerful also now.

But with re-districting we also got many an Asian voter out of Chinatown pushed into our district because the repugs thought this would give them more seats in local government.

In the meantime many young, wealthy, successful Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and Indians are living here as well, opening businesses too.

Love, C.

K. said...

Voting in east King Cty was painless. It's the vote counting that takes forever. We won't know the outcome of one congressional race until today or tomorrow.

It felt great to both vote for a candidate and at the same time -- as you say -- repudiate the last eight years.