Magazine article Newsweek

Forced to Choose under Pressure

Magazine article Newsweek

Forced to Choose under Pressure

Article excerpt

Byline: Raina Kelley

One would think that the fate of the free world rode on my shoulders. The New York state primary was a month ago, and my close friends and family are still pressuring me to say if I like Hillary or Barack better. It seems as though all my white female friends tell me that Hillary is a woman, yes, but also a fine senator and the best candidate for the job.

My African-American friends and family encourage me to vote for Barack because he is extraordinary and different and a voice for change and oh, did they mention -- black. As just one registered voter out of millions, why do I have to tell everyone I know who I am voting for? I cannot help but feel that my character hangs in the balance. If I vote for Hillary, I am turning my back on my race, or, worse, I'm a self-hating black. If I vote for Barack, I am forsaking women and any hope of gender equality--ever. For the first time in my life, I wish I were a white man. At least then I wouldn't have to bear the joint legacies of racism and sexism on my back.

I have to confess, the pressure got to me so badly that I was unable to vote in my state's primary, even though I lied to several people and said I did. I couldn't pull the lever against a potential black president--or a woman. I felt that I had to stand for one "ism" over another, and I couldn't handle it. But if I thought I could sit back and enjoy the campaign post-primary, I was wrong. People still won't leave me alone.

Despite a well-crafted appearance of world-weary cynicism, I suddenly felt naive and flummoxed trying to make a decision about whom to vote for. I thought we had gotten past much of the tribalism that allows racism and sexism to thrive. But everybody I know seems to be taking orders from some exclusive group--whether it is race- or gender-based--and I feel as though my allegiance is somewhere in the middle. …

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