The Black Womanâ€™s Rally For Obama
By Chika Oduah
Greetings! Welcome to Speak Out Georgia on Good Politics Radio. Iâ€™m Chika Oduah, your podcast anchor. Thank you for joining in. We have a very interesting program today all about politics. Stay tuned for todayâ€™s discussion. (Break)
Welcome back. You are listening to Speak Out Georgia. As you know, the presidential campaign is in full swing. Weâ€™ve heard the debates, watched the diplomatic kisses on the cheeks of cherubic babes, weâ€™ve seen candidates come in and out of the great race, and weâ€™re all in tune to that buzz word: change.
This call for change is the resounding mantra of Senator Barack Obamaâ€™s campaign and today weâ€™ll speak with one organization that is completely in tune with that mantra.
Today, I speak with Patricia Wilson-Smith from Black Women For Obama. Patricia Wilson-Smith is a freelance writer and authored a book that received quite a bit of attention entitled, Duped By Love. The book brought the author into the spotlight of African American romance literature. Reviewers commented that the novel is â€œhilariousâ€ and â€œboldly realistic.â€ The author was described as one with a â€œwicked sense of humor.â€
The author is with us today, but not because of her acclaimed expertise in dating and romance, but for her political initiatives.
Patricia, thank you for joining us today on Speak Out Georgia.Â
Speak Out Georgia: What role do you play in Black Women For Obama as a contributor?
Patricia: Actually I am the executive director for Black Women For Obama. Itâ€™s an organization that I started. It started as a small group of women in Atlanta, Georgia that really wanted to get involved in the campaign and some aspects of pulling black women into the political process and itâ€™s actually spread to 16 chapters around the country.
SOG: What is the purpose of Black Women for Obama?
Patricia: Well, obviously we are all very strong Obama supporters but also, we felt like this election year, more than any other, black women had a very important voice and we wanted to make sure that as supporters of Senator Obama, we let the world know and other black women know that there was a group of us who firmly believe that Senator Obama is the best choice for the President of United States. Also, weâ€™re very very adamant about doing what we can to bring more black women into the political process. And not just black women. We reach out to voters of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. We call ourselves Black Women for Obama because we are a group of black women.
SOG: Is BWFO simply on online community or is there more behind it? Is there a type of philosophical meaning behind it?
Patricia: Actually it started out as an online community. It basically started out with me and a blog and it kinda spread from there into a formal group here in Atlanta, Georgia then turned into several groups around the country. We do voter registration; we do volunteer events to feed the hungry. We meet, most chapters, meet at least once a month. We meet by conference as a national organization. So it started out as an online community but now itâ€™s a full blown organization.
SOG: Ok. It does sound to be very hands on and very active which is very impressive. The polls show that women very much are in support of Obama. Why do you think this is, why do you think he is so appealing to females?
Patricia: I think Hilary has good support among the women and Obama has some strong support among the women. But I think itâ€™s primarily because heâ€™s proven himself to be the candidate who has the best interests of families at heart and the interests of children. Improving the health care system, so I think he appeals to them from that standpoint. I think that women are pretty much very very tired with the direction that the country is going in. And for them, he represents change.
SOG: A lot of people did like Clinton the President, so why do you think that the same group of people will not like Hilary. A lot of black people actually supported Bill Clinton when he was in office. So do you think that for Hilary, the black people will trust her to do the same job?
Patricia: â€œI think there are a couple of reasons why Hilary has such strong support among black women. I think that her husband Bill Clinton, he was extremely popular in the black community, and rightfully so. I love and respect Bill Clinton. I respect Hilary Clinton, a great deal. So I think thatâ€™s part it. I think the other reason is that I think a lot of women tend to gravitate towards her because they believe that a woman will take a different path when it comes to running the country. I think a lot of women are very very scared about the quickness with which some men will go to war. So I think thatâ€™s part of it too. The bottom line is the Clintons have been in politics for years and years and years; theyâ€™re very familiar and over the last several years the whole idea of the Clintons and their political dynasty and Bill being the first black president and all that. I think theyâ€™ve really dug in to the black community. Thatâ€™s part of it too.
SOG: And as you know, among the women supporting Obama and his wife, of course, is Oprah Winfrey. What are your thoughts on Oprah Winfrey’s participation in Obamaâ€™s campaign? Is it surprising, or is it encouraging?
Patricia: I think itâ€™s surprising. I think itâ€™s encouraging, I think itâ€™s great. But I was also surprised by it at first because Oprah has yet, or has never before in this campaign thrown her hat into the ring behind a candidate, and has definitely not gone out on the campaign trail. It tells me that she knows what a lot of Barack Obama supporters know- that he really is for this time the best candidate for helping us to achieve change for a number of reasons. So I have to believe that she really got involved because she sees something different here like the rest of us do.
Patricia: Definitely if a woman like Oprah Winfrey says you should run for president, itâ€™s an ego booster. But I think Senator Obama was called to this. Some people have a destiny and I donâ€™t think that he had any way of knowing that at this time, this country would be where it is politically in terms of the Iraq war, the mess that that has become, in terms of our reputation around the world. I donâ€™t think he had any way of knowing that at this point in time, he would be the best person for the job. It just turned out that way.
SOG: In your opinion, do you feel that the present criticisms of Obamaâ€™s favor of pro-life will do much damage to his campaign?
Patricia: No, I donâ€™tÂ because I think thatâ€™s one of the issues in any election that is completely cut and dry- either youâ€™re completely for it and completely against it and I think this country is pretty down the middle where that issue is concerned. I think he is one of many of us in the democratic field that are pro-life. Itâ€™s not going to hurt his chances at all.
SOG: Why should black women specifically support Obama?
Patricia: You know what I have a lot of opinions about that. I believe that everyone in America should support Senator Obama because he is uniquely qualified to govern this entire country because of his mixed heritage and because of his background, heâ€™s dined with heads of state, heâ€™s worked in inner cities, he has worked alongside ministers and community leaders to improve things. So I think all people should support him .Why black women should support him specifically? In my opinion, I think that it would send an amazing message to the black children in our communities who are struggling with self-esteem and struggling to pull themselves out of a cycle of poverty and drugs to see someone who looks like them as President of the United States. I believe that honestly, all of the democrats are pretty much lined up in terms of their views on things, in terms of their issues, but only senator Barack Obama can honestly say that he is not part of the Washington elite, that he has not been entrenched of the politics that have basically driven this country into the ground in the last 25 years. And Barack Obama can say that he is the only person who did not vote for the Iraq war. So those are my reasons. So I feel very strongly that putting Senator Barack Obama in office will make a very strong statement to the rest of the world about the direction our country is headed in.
SOG: You just mentioned his mixed heritage about which I found very interesting. Are you implying that his multiethnic background gives him a boost to his candidacy?
Patricia:Â â€œNot a boost to his candidacy. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s as simple as that. I think that the fact that he has a mixed heritage race says that as a country, weâ€™ve gotten beyond all the tackles of the past in terms of who we will and who will will not put into high office.
SOG: Do you think that looks play an important role with his appeal for women?
Patricia: No, I donâ€™t. When I first got involved in the Obama campaign, there were a lot of shallow people who said, â€œOh, youâ€™re just supporting him because heâ€™s cute.â€ Unfortunately, we live in a very image-driven society. Thereâ€™s nothing we can do about that. And yes, I think if you look presidential, if you look appealing, it canâ€™t do anything but help your chances. It canâ€™t hurt, but do I think that the reason why he is popular or supported is because of the way he looks, absolutely not. Thatâ€™s not the reason why I support him. Iâ€™ve read his book, Iâ€™ve read many of his speeches and I honestly believe that he has the right vision for the country. I believe that he understands, in a global way, why we are where we are right now, how we got here, what we have to do to get out of it. And thatâ€™s why I support him. So no, his looks have nothing to do with it.Â Â
SOG: Iâ€™m going to read a quote from one of your articles entitled, “A Compelling Case For Obama”. You stated, â€œThis is no longer Hillary Clintonâ€™s time; Obama is the only candidate with an innate ability to govern all Americans.â€ Can you elaborate on this idea? Why do you believe that it is Obama, not Clinton, who has the means to unify the nation?
Patricia: I believe that because obviously we know that the Clintons had their time in office. The time that they were in office was extremely traumatic for the country for a lot of reasons. A lot of reasons that had nothing to do with them, were not there fault, but some that were. The bottom line is, she has too much baggage. A lot of the baggage she carries is not her fault either, but it doesnâ€™t matter. If it has a negative impact on the way to move this country forward, then it should be tolerated. So I just really believe strongly that they have had their time. The Clintons have had their time and where we are as a nation now, what weâ€™ve had to deal with over the last 25 years or so odd years is a direct result of the baby boom-ish politics of Vietnam and the Nixon era and the Clintons represent the division brought about by that political era. Senator Obama is the first post-baby boom candidate who is in the field, who knows how to bring people together, who is not a polarizing figure like Senator Clinton. I think that this country deserves a fresh start and a brand new look in the way we should look at politics and I think that he can bring that to the country.
SOG: Is Obama to â€œexoticâ€ for the U.S. considering his Kenyan patrilineage.
Patricia: I think the United States has become a true melting pot. Thereâ€™s no such thing as exotic in this country anymore. I work in an office everyday downtown that has Asians, Indians, blacks, whites, Europeans- there is no such thing as exotic anymore.
SOG: They say behind every strong man is a stronger woman. So what are your thoughts on Michelle Obama? Is she strong enough to support her husband during this critical period?
Patricia: Sure, sheâ€™s already proven that sheâ€™s strong enough to support her husband. She is actually on the campaign trail rooting for him and also staying home supporting her kids at the same time. Sheâ€™s amazing and if youâ€™ve seen her speak, she is just as strong and resolute about the direction this country should go in as her husband is. She would make a great first lady.Â
SOG: Does BWFO hold a position on the war in Iraq?
Patricia:Â We do. We want out troops brought home. We believe, like Senator Barack Obama that the war should never have been waged in the first place, that it was basically a diversion from what we werenâ€™t doing successfully in Afghanistan, and that we need to fight the right war. We also believe in Senator Obama because of his ability to solve very complex problems and he is the only who is going to be able to bring this war to a close and do what has to be done diplomatically in the Middle East and to basically clean up our reputation around the world. Thatâ€™s our stance. Itâ€™s the exact same stance that Senator Obama has.
SOG: The BWFO homepage reads â€œItâ€™s Time For Change In America.â€ What type of changes are you referring to and why does BWFO believe that Obama has the skills to enact those changes?
Patricia: In terms of politics as usual in this country, the kind of politics that essentially keeps us from moving forward and solving the problems that we need to solve because of divisiveness and partisan bickering. Senator Obama has already proven in the Illinois state legislature and in the Senate that he is the kind of person who can sit down with Republicans and Democrats alike and tackle a difficult issue and come to a consensus on the issue and bring about the best resolution for all involved so that is the kind of leader that we need in this country. Weâ€™ve got to get away from a system of politics that is so bogged down with scandal and bickering and backbiting, that we canâ€™t get anything done. In the meanwhile, weâ€™re stepping over homeless people in major cities and weâ€™ve got young boys barely old enough to vote dying in Afghanistan and Iraq and nothing else is being solved in this country domestically in terms of things like crimeÂ and the education system being broken. We just feel strongly that itâ€™s time for us to just stop and take another look at the way this country is being run and to put someone in office who can affect the kind of change that we need so that we can move forward instead of constantly remaining stagnant.Â
SOG: Is BWFO an initiative to encourage political participation in the Black American community which is often cited as not having enough political enthusiasm?
Patricia: Yes it is absolutely. One of our main goals is, as a matter of fact, is to do what we can to bring other black men into the political process and to also do what we can to make sure that people of all races understand who Senator Barack Obama is.
SOG: How exactly can BWFO be an impact among the younger generation?
Patricia: We have lots of young women in the organization and we basically very targeted outreach to student chapters and weâ€™ve helped to start chapters in different colleges around Georgia especially for ObamaForAmerica. And then we work with different student chapters to plan events.
Patricia, we thank you for your comments. If you would like more information on the featured organization, visit, http://www.blackwomenforobama.org/
As a student myself, I encourage all students to stay updated on the politics of America. If you are eligible, register to vote. This is an exciting time for all. There are new faces in this presidential race. We have a female; we have a black man; we have ideas of change. I welcome your comments. Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ
I am Chika Oduah. Thank you for listening to Speak Out Georgia.
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Chika Oduah, host for Speak Out Georgia, is a student and a documentary film maker.