The Big “O”


Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not about that big O.

“What do you think about Oprah and Obama?” asked the Occupational Therapist. This came out of the blue during our last session. After being prefaced with “I know I shouldn’t be asking this question but…,” she asked it anyway. I was startled since I don’t really know her that well. She comes for an hour a week and the focus is supposed to be on BabyBoodle, but lately I’ve noticed she’s been chatting more and doing less. I keep trying to steer conversations to focus on ways to get BB faster, better, stronger.

“Uhm, I’m not sure what I think about Oprah. I know that she hasn’t done this for anyone else in her entire career.” I stalled as I tried to figure out why is this woman asking me this? I wasn’t ready to unleash the political dogs on her. It’s amazing to see O wield her significant powers and to know that one word out of her mouth can really make or break someone (hello James Frey!). I also feel that with every move by every candidate being scrutinized ad infinitum, I’m already on candidate overload and starting to shut down.

“I don’t think he’s black enough,” she said dismissively. Oh boy, here we go. This having been said by someone who told me that she’s married to a white man and doesn’t want to be lumped with African-Americans since she’s of Guyanese descent. I’m cool with all of that. I grew up with plenty of Jamaicans and Trinis (I’m related to some through marriage) and technically, they aren’t A-As; their struggles are different so it makes sense that they don’t want to be thrown together with us. I always got the sense from her that she didn’t want to get locked down by the whole racial classification thing since it’s not such a big deal in Guyana, her daughter is biracial and her mother is Portuguese. Did she have the right to say that Obama isn’t black enough? Does anyone really? I’ve been accused of not being black enough too, so I bridled at her statement.

“You think so? I think he embodies the ideal of America–the whole mixed race, melting pot thing.” Okay, I nearly vomited after that one but to some extent it was true. His biracial heritage and untraditional background might be the ticket for getting him into office. I didn’t want to go into the whole “one drop of black means you’re all black” thing with her which is still a commonly held belief in America. It’s hard for outsiders to understand that sometimes. “I’m not sure how much he can get done even if he does make it. At least Hillary has an inside track,” I said, opening a box of blocks for BB as a reminder of why we were here.

“Obama’s wife is so, so…strident.” Hmmm, interesting choice of words coming from her, a person whom I wouldn’t call strident, but definitely someone lacking the warm and fuzzy. Of all the therapists, BB hasn’t really connected with her as much. She has some good ideas sometimes but we labor at our conversations. Besides, what does Obama’s wife have to do with him being president?

“And Hillary’s not?” It popped out before I could stop it. “She can be hard to stomach at times.”

I was about to start my rant about how our two-party system isn’t really working and has neglected the black voter; how complicated this election is becoming with its many early debates and caucuses; how I wasn’t really thrilled with any of the candidates on either side (could I really vote Republican?); how Americans have been sold a bill of goods for the whole election process (see Fahrenheit 9/11) and how regardless of who is elected, this country is headed for a serious economic downturn. The next president can’t guarantee that I will find a job next year when I send BB to nursery school, or guarantee that my husband won’t be fired from his financial services job or that my taxes will go down (or at least not go up 10 freaking percent in one year). That’s what I’m worried about. As I opened my mouth to start, BB walked over to me and bumped my head with hers and giggled hysterically. It’s this game we play. “Ow!” she said and giggled some more.

The conversation was over.


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