In North Michigan Park, a predominantly black middle-class neighborhood in the District, hundreds of residents gathered Saturday for a community reunion picnic. It had plenty of food and music and lots of hugs and laughter. Then I started asking people how they felt about the Republican campaign to defeat President Obama.
Talk about a mood killer.
“The whole slant of the Republican campaign is an outright lie and overtly racist,” said Billy Hudson, a retired D.C. firefighter, seething as he spoke.
Sharon Goines, a retired Verizon employee, said: “These new voter ID laws are nothing but a scam to suppress the black vote. It feels like people are trying to send us back to the days before we could vote.”
Ola Borders, a retired employee for the Internal Revenue Service, added, “Better hope and pray that they get some honest election officials, or else Obama might find himself cheated out of a job.”
I attended the festivities near Fort Totten in Northeast to see if black people could really be having much fun at a time like this, when Obama’s opponents are trying to tag him as “food stamp president” and “welfare king” and a “foreigner,” all part of a campaign to stir up white resentment — not just toward the president but black people in general.
North Michigan Park is part of the backbone of black Washington, where residents earn respect through hard work, sacrifice and fiscal responsibility. It is not a place where black residents walk around with racial chips on their shoulders. If only their eyes could gloss over a racial code word or their ears deafen to racist “dog whistles.”
But as wearisome as it is to be on constant guard against racial threats, relief through denial is a luxury that the black survival instinct simply won’t allow.
“The Republicans are saying that Obama wants to take Medicare away from whites and give food stamps to blacks,” Hudson huffed. “Incredible. Baldfaced lies. And they are getting away with it.”