What’s In A Name?

My friend, BT, began sending emails to a small group of us, who are addicted to the presidential nomination race, a couple of months ago. Everyone now emails everyone with personal observations, news story links, and primary humor.

I received this email from AT, another member of the group today:

you know, I’ve changed my mind about Barack. I now no longer support him for president because I am very concerned that the people of West Virginia will be uncomfortable: Click to read LA Times story.

Naturally, I went to the LA Times story to check out what dire words could be responsible for such a change of heart. To my horror, the story was exactly as AT stated and I immediately began to share his concern about the people of West Virginia.

According to the news story,

“Obama may have emerged from his double-digit victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton in North Carolina and his razor-thin loss in Indiana on Tuesday with a virtual lock on the Democratic nomination. But, his performance did little to reassure political leaders here [West Virginia] concerned by his sagging numbers among once-loyal white Democrats, who have steadily abandoned their party over the last several presidential elections.”

I was particularly taken by the concern expressed by lawyer Clyde M. See Jr., a former Democratic speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates and two-time gubernatorial candidate. He considers Senator Obama to be a “fine speaker,” but worries that, “There’s a lot of bigotry in the country, not just West Virginia.”

I’ve never been to West Virginia but I have known a few people from various parts of West Virginia. I even had a romantic relationship with a man from West Virginia. Of course, he dumped me and I’ve been sort of ticked off about it ever since but I don’t hold the entire state of West Virginia responsible. (Steve W. if you’re reading this, I am so over you.)

I began to wonder if perhaps the LA Times reporter was getting a bit over excited about race relations in West Virginia. Over the years, there have been multiple occasions when people have shared their sympathy over my unfortunate status of being black and southern. They always seem a bit surprised when I reassure them that I love living in the south. Most of these people are well-meaning non-southerners who assume that no black person in her right mind would willingly choose to live in the south. There are days when I feel as if I may be a brick shy of a load, but mostly I’m in my right mind.

Then my mind began to wander as I tried to figure out if West Virginia was really a part of the south. Originally a part of Virginia, West Virginia bears the distinction of being the only state created by seceding from a confederate state. West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a separate entity from Virginia on June 20, 1863. People that I know from West Virginia don’t always agree as to whether it’s a part of the south. However, as most of those people have more of a drawl than I do, I’m calling them southerners whether they like it or not.

As I was pursuing this line of thought, I realized that I had not finished reading the LA Times article. and I set about doing so. As I continued to read, I realized that the reporter had chosen to focus on a particular W. Va. area, Hardy County, with a population that is 97% white. (According to the 2000 census, the state of W. Va. is 96% white.) According to the LA Times, Hardy County is “as conflicted as any rural and working-class Democratic bastion as it struggles to adjust to the likely prospect of the party nominating its first African American presidential candidate.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if the white people that I know, some of whom I count as close personal friends, knew that they were conflicted about voting for Barack Obama. All the white people that I know didn’t vote for Obama but neither did all the black people that I know; however, a lot of people in North Carolina voted for Obama in the primary, enough to give him nearly a 15 point lead over Senator Clinton. Maybe they didn’t know that they were conflicted.

I was starting to get really confused and worried about the conflicted folks in West Virginia, and I began to think that perhaps I should follow AT’s lead and stop supporting Senator Obama.

As I wrestled with my unsettled feelings, I continued to read the news story that had gotten me so worked up regarding my conflicted neighbors in West Virginia, and I came across the comments made by a Mr. Vetter, 64, a farmer and lifelong Democrat who regrets voting for Bush in 2000.

“I’ve got 50-some guns, and I wasn’t crazy about Obama’s talk about small towns,” said Sam Vetter,… “Besides,” he added, “Obama just doesn’t sound right for an American president.”

As Vetter’s words sunk in, I had what Oprah calls an “A-ha moment,” a moment of life changing insight that provides you with the solution to what troubles your mind. I didn’t have to stop supporting Barack Hussein Obama, all I had to do was persuade him to change his name!

Vetter said it, “Obama just doesn’t sound right for an American president!” That’s why the people of W. Va. are so conflicted, Obama’s name is just all wrong for an American president.

I immediately began to think of some possibilities and I think that I’ve hit on one. I need to write the current owner and ask if he minds if Senator Obama borrows his name. It’s a solid name, an American name. After all, the holder of this name has had a long political career. As soon as I get all the legal obstacles cleared, I’m going to have a long talk with Senator Obama to persuade him that he needs to change his name to Newt Gingrich.

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