Yesterday, I took my 85 year old mother to vote early. The lines were too long so we left to return later.
We stopped in a local restaurant to get something to eat. During the meal we couldn’t help but notice that the maitre’d inquired of all the patrons if they were satisfied with their meal, but somehow managed to skip our table.
We did notice that we were the only African American patrons present.
At the table behind us where two couples dined, an elderly gentleman railed in audible tones about the waste of the new Affordable Care Act. “Were you ever sick at 27?” he challenged his companions. “Why should young people have to buy health insurance?”
My mind did stray to one of my close friends from high school who died at 19 from sickle cell anemia, and to several friends who became ill and died from AIDS in their twenties and thirties, and to my cousin severely injured in a car crash who subsequently died when he was 21, and to another cousin who died from lupus when she was 28.
Then looking directly at my mom he said, “Women had babies in the fields and went back to work. They don’t need insurance.”
We were ready to pay the check and leave. The maitre’d appeared. “Was everything alright?” he asked.
I arrived at home and logged onto my computer. A new Associated Press Poll on racial attitudes was out.
“In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell….Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too.”
Yesterday, our troubles did not seem so far away.