Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA! : You Didn't Put a Slave Owner in the White House!

I am thirty years old, Hispanic, a small business woman, and daughter of a retired Army Master Sergeant and...

My deep, dark, secret... Seriously.

My fellow Americans, I did not vote for Barack Obama.

That statement seems so unpatriotic after the $170M (What recession?) pomp and circumstance displayed yesterday as we welcomed our new Commander in Chief.

However, I like millions of Americans, joined in the celebration of a truly magnificent moment in our nation's history. Much to my boyfriend's dismay - Netflix movies arrived that we've wanted to see and songs on Guitar Hero that needed to be conquered - we began the week by watching the We Are One Concert Sunday night at the Lincoln Memorial.

I was touched by the obviously moved presenters and performers and teared up as I sang along to Garth Brook's We Shall Be Free. (Yes, imagine that! A Puerto Rican who loves country!)

I continued in the excitement through the morning of the Inauguration from sunrise, minute by minute, never skipping a moment while I worked throughout the day with my laptop on my lap and ABC's Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson keeping me company with the latest news and information.

As I watched the President take his oath of office, I was filled with pride in a nation that saw past the color of a man's skin and elected him to our country's highest office.

And I cried when Aretha Franklin's eyes sparkled as she belted out "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King's beloved dream.

I too shared in the remarkable moment as the stories my own grandmother echoed in my mind about the difficulties of being a single working mother with dark toffee colored skin...

The way she has about her, when I call her still furious from another encounter at a department store where an absent-minded person will ask me to help them with their purchase because they assume I must work there since it's the middle of the day during a work week, and I have kinky hair and I look like I speak Spanish.

"Dori, it's because you're not afraid to look a person in the eye and smile, not because you look like you work there!

These days no one has it in them to stand tall, walk proud, with purpose and pride and be confident enough to really see the people around them; therefor you must work there...

Don't change who you are because others keep themselves closed in a bubble unable to see the world around them."

I watched the swearing in, the speech quoting great leaders of our country, watched Laura and George Bush wave goodbye as they boarded Executive One, watched the parade wondering WHAT ON EARTH Michelle was thinking wearing that outfit in twenty degree weather, danced to the incredible drum lines in the parade as I made dinner, and then curled up to watch the Neighborhood Ball where I once again questioned the choice of the First Lady's fashion sense as she glided onto the stage in what appeared to be an unflattering toga with pasted on feathers and cotton balls!

And, I cried at Beyonce's emotional serenade as the new President and First Lady danced for the first time...

You could feel the love and adoration that Obama and Michelle feel for one another. It was truly a spectacular moment.

As the ball continued and
Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson continued to MC the day, ABC began to include editorials on notable people and events relating to the historical event.

A segment featuring the descendants of a slave family from the McCain Plantation in Mississippi changed the tone of the day for me.

I remember watching the segment, looking back at Todd and saying,

"I can't believe of all the stories they could have shared tonight, that's the one they chose!"

It told the story of Mary and Lillie McCain who's great grandfather worked for the ancestors of John McCain. The narrator of the story emphasized,

"If you're wondering about the name, yes, they carry the name of their white slave owner McCain, ancestors of Senator John McCain."

The story detailed the family's plight as freedom fighters and ultimate successes overcoming racial discrimination.

Diane Sawyer finished the segment by explaining that when both the Senator and the President were contacted about the story that their response was,

"...with incredible emotional unity, that there is only one way to redeem it, it is that together we must give them opportunity, give everyone, every child the opportunity, it's the only way to redeem this."

I however question the timing and placement of this editorial.

With so many questioning the role of the media in this election I was shocked that segment was aired in the middle of the night's festivities and even more bewildered that
it was sugar-coated as an accidental ironic coincidence, topped off with an insulting inquisition of a respected member of our country.

What can someone say in response to,

Senator McCain, How do you feel about your ancestors having slaves?"

I am not in any way demeaning the suffering of the McCain family's ancestors, nor am I in any way making light of Senator McCain's ancestor's use of slavery - what I AM questioning is ABC's judgment in airing such a story on the night of "unity and a momentous moment in history".

It almost felt as if it was a

"CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA! You didn't put a slave owner in the White House!"

It was awkward and incredibly inappropriate. The anchor panel even seemed trapped in uncomfortable silence at the end of the story.

I can appreciate the irony as much as the next guy -

"the Senator whose ancestors had slaves - loses to a man who's half Kenyan."



Spell it out in black and white (no pun intended).

Don't put the anchors and reporters of that story in such an obviously uncomfortable position to make good TELEVISION - because it was just that - not good reporting, but good Reality TV.


I doubt our new President would have appreciated the tone you created on a night meant to unite our country!

My deep dark secret...

My fellow Americans, I did not vote for Barack Obama.

I voted for a man who has spent his entire life in service of his country.

He's earned the right not to have to explain the actions of those generations before him.

I hope that my great, great grandchildren don't ever have to explain mine.

But, as a child of military parents, it was so difficult for me to wholeheartedly back my party's nominee for president during this past election when there was another candidate who not only stood in service of our country as an elected official for over twenty years, but also served our country in time of war.

I have never supported the wars in the Middle East but I am fiercely supportive of our servicemen and women who are fighting for the freedom of so many and protecting our own.

My ex-husband still suffers from illness from the first Gulf War and my father was deployed for almost two years and that time was very difficult for my family. I was barely thirteen when he came home and shortly after that he was deployed again to the conflict in Somalia.

I was so angry!

"Why do we always have to police the rest of the world!? That's not your job!"

I'll never forget that afternoon as my father sat with me and my sister in a booth at a restaurant for lunch. My parents were in the middle of an ugly divorce and it was our afternoon with him.

I watched him as his face started to show the signs of age that I had never noticed before, and his shoulders dropped as he sighed heavily.

He then sat tall and determined - like the proud, dark, and handsome soldier I had always known.

It was at that moment that the father whose English I always teased, with his heavy Spanish accent, was as eloquent as any scholar whose words I'd ever hear...

"Dani, that flag that I wear on my shoulder that stands for the freedom that I help protect, doesn't just stand for you, but for everyone who can't fight for themselves. As long as I wear that uniform I will go where ever my Commander and Chief tells me to go, so that you don't ever have to witness the things that I have."

I am proud that our new First Lady's focus will be on the military family. Heaven knows that they are truly the unsung heroes of our country.

Their sacrifices are immeasurable so that we can sleep safe at night
in a world where they shield us from nightmares we couldn't imagine are possible, so that we can dream all of life's possibilities.

My deep dark secret...

My fellow Americans, I did not vote for Barack Obama.

But he did indeed win the election and the hearts of our countrymen.

He is not our first African-American President.


A man born from a white mother, an African father, raised in a multicultural home with an Indonesian stepfather and mother and later by the love of his grandparents while his mother worked abroad.

This man is a blending of cultures, races, and family dynamics. He understands the struggles of being unique and learning to overcome the diversity in his life.

What an amazing gift we have been given as a country.

A leader as diverse as the country he leads.

Now that the celebration of a new chapter in our nation's history is behind us, we watch as the President sets to tackle the many challenges that face our country.

I pray that our actions today, and in the next several years, bring pride and honor to the generations to come.


  1. I *did* vote for Obama - but he has slave-owners in his family tree as well.

    George Washington Overall, who was Obama's great-great-great-great grandfather, was recorded in the 1850 census in Nelson County, Kentucky as owning two slaves, a 15-year-old black female and a 25-year-old black male. George's mother-in-law, Mary Duvall, was shown owning a 60-year-old black man and a 58-year-old black woman.

    In the 1850 census, slaves are listed by owner, age, sex, and color, but names weren't recorded.

    Bill Burton, campaign spokesman, said "And it is a true measure of progress that the descendant of a slave owner would come to marry a student from Kenya and produce a son who would grow up to be a candidate for president of the United States."

    We've come a long way, baby! In the election and the transition period, Obama has shown himself to be exceptionally respectful of his opposition. I have high hopes!

  2. Harl, thank you so much for your post and for taking the time to share this great history with us!

    siempre - dorana

  3. Such a thoughtful, well-written post. i voted for Obama, but I agree that McCain shouldn't have to apologize for the actions of his ancestors (nor should Obama). I just found out that I am descended from Queen Isabella, who launched the Spanish Inquisition, as well as the exploration that led to so much grief for people in the Americas, but I am not responsible for that, nor do I feel the need to apologize for her, either.

    If it makes you feel better, I get asked for help in stores all the time, and I look as stereotypically Irish as one can without red hair. But I think it's for the same reason: because I smile at strangers.

  4. Hi Dorana - You already know I'm an Obama supporter, but I also do not agree with bringing up the stories about how ancestors have acted. That was hitting below the belt.

    But I did want to point out about the reports of $150-$170 cost of the inauguration. Just because that is the email I just responded to from my family. Please read this article:

    While I agree that you don't need to spend $45 million in parties to welcome any new president. The numbers are comparable to the Bush administrations' 4 years ago.

    Keep up the great work and never be afraid to give your opinions. You always do your research ;) It just irks me when people spread ill feelings based on false info.


  5. paint :o) thank you for your post and reminding me to keep smiling!

    marine - thank you always for your support and taking the time to comment on my post.

    - about the cost of the inauguration - the economy is not what it has been since the great depression - not the last inauguration - as a financial educator, im sure the american people who are suffering financially and losing their jobs would have had a different view of how any amount of money should have been spent.

    siempre - dorana

  6. Wonderful post Dorana. Thank you for sharing your experience and point of view. It was an incredible day! Saludos desde NYC!