A few weeks before the 2008 election, I was walking my dog in my neighborhood in the known-to-be-uber-liberal Portland, Oregon. I passed a couple of white guys who were unloading equipment from a van. When I was halfway down the block they raised their voices and loudly delivered, so anyone in ear shot would hear, a comment using the word Nigger. Not to be paranoid, but it was safe to assume they were directing the epithet at me, since no one else was around -- and my dog is white. I didn't turn around. They did it again.
I thought to myself, Whew! I'm so glad that in a couple of weeks we'll have a black president and I will never have to hear that word again. Racism will be over and those guys will wake up in a post-racism world where that kind of behavior would never cross their mind. Furthermore in this wonderful new land, they'll offer me help as I cross the busy street with my blind dog, and probably offer her a treat from the dog treats they keep in their van just for friendly citizen moments like this one. I'll smile and thank them, without any feeling of caution, skepticism or disparity. Instead we'll be buddies in this wonderful new land where we live with hands extended toward each other in the spirit of "hope" and "change."
I went home and dreamt of this brave new country.
And so I wrote a guidebook that would help us all navigate this new world that was sure to dawn.
Obamistan! Land without Racism: Your Guide to the New America is a citizen's guide to all this country became on that fated day when this country -- previously teeming with racism -- put it all behind to be led by a man who would have only been seen as a potential basketball star only a mere decade or two earlier. It is a letter-by-letter alphabetical guide to the post-racism country that both liberals and conservatives claim we have already accomplished while every day they prove how far we truly are from this notion at all.
I wanted to explore all the other areas that racism might impact -- not just how we treat each other, but how we experience restaurants, health, geography, television, and all the areas that we forget that racism impacts. I also wanted to envision a world where people are truly valued for their individual contributions -- the world I believe our founding fathers truly intended to realize when they set this place up.
In truth, Obamistan puts the reader to the test -- is this the world we want? Is it something we can create? Does it seem absurd? Why? Why is treating people wonderfully and having less sickness among people of color and more responsibility among white people such an absurd proposition? Yes, the Minute Men might not start being immigration escorts -- but if the country truly has abandoned racism, why not? We can make real change, not just vote for it. So I ask each citizen -- are you going to take responsibility for creating the change you voted for, or will you sit back and throw stones at the guy in office, even if you campaigned for him? This book asks you to put up or shut up.
So take a tour through Obamistan -- see how absurd it feels to you -- and don't ask me why it's absurd -- ask yourself. And then invite your neighbor over for a pot of the Great Obamistani Jambalaya and start figuring out how we really make change happen.