Don't Leave Me This Way

I got my period on Election Day. Shoulda known shit was headed downhill from there. Now that we've gotten distance on Nov. 2, everybody wants my take on the outcome. By "everybody" I mean my clique

I got my period on Election Day. Shoulda known shit was headed downhill from there.

Now that we've gotten distance on Nov. 2, everybody wants my take on the outcome. By "everybody" I mean my clique, folks surviving in the invisible realm of wage slavery yet who are fully engaged in change.

They vote, march and join and form activist groups. There's Dani, a teacher; Karen, an activist; Joe, a senior at Clark Montessori; Randy, my brother and an adjunct at the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning.

Then there's the Simone's waitress who whispered in my ear above the Friday night din that she and her boyfriend are again talking about splitting for Toronto. Karen wonders if all the people she heard make the same vow to leave America will do so.

"Problem is, who'd want us?" she asked.

We've already been vacated — makes sense that some want to now vacate.

My East Walnut Hills neighborhood has been vacated, for sure. Merely days ago we were overrun by khaki-clad white men on cell phones congregating on corners into the early morning, excited, strategizing and hopeful. At 3 a.m. one morning I stuck my head out my living room window and gave them the "please move on" speech I give the crackheads.

During the pre-election froth, white soccer moms squeezed their minivans and SUVs between the hoopties that haven't moved since I've lived here. Since about Labor Day, bombastic young black velour sweat-suited brothers and their banshee female counterparts have awakened me in their jockeying in a line winding around the block. They were getting paid to canvass.

The Kerry/Edwards campaign pitched its tent in my neighborhood, commandeering two bustling outposts. The traffic grew so thick orange-vested volunteers worked traffic control.

Picture my urban, three-story brick apartment building as a honeycomb of working class single parents, teachers, retirees — you know, strivers. The Kerry/Edwards people — whites appeared to give the orders; young blacks seemed the foot soldiers — buzzed for months around my building and my block, sometimes literally bumping into one another with fatigue or glee.

I got home at 2 a.m. last Wednesday morning as Ohio continued counting its ballots and several hours before Sen. Kerry conceded the election. By sunrise, I had my block back. Not a well-meaning white person, minivan or SUV in sight.

Soccer moms were back to shoving juice boxes into lunchboxes. All the young blacks, too, were gone, having returned to see-through fence sitting.

Who knows how they feel about being a little co-opted and paid 60 bucks to immerse themselves in a losing proposition? Where's the exit poll delineating the details of perhaps their first and last time in the political process?

It'd probably go a little like this: "One hundred percent of young black first-time voters polled said, 'Fuck it.' Back to you, Jim."

Joe, a black nerd from Clark, says he might never vote again. He's depressed over the election.

"This is the Democratic process," I told him lamely. "The right-wing neo-conservatives want you to go away. They want you to disappear defeated. Maybe it's time all the grassroots people and all the people who banded together stop looking to the traditional white male power structure for answers. I mean, I voted for Kerry, but do you think he'd have any effect on my life in East Walnut Hills? Either way, I'm fucked."

But I'm not hostile, bitter or depressed, because I've reached a state of political inertia. I'm at rest in a straight line, and I've used the duct tape and plastic left over from the last terror scare to steel myself against the Partisan Mothership that wants desperately to abduct me into its melodrama.

Easy for me to say. America's born a generation, a subculture cult, of angry and even hostile people left to figure out a balancing act between what this country means to them, their loyalty to changing it and how to play nice with those bullying Rumsfelds and Cheneys next door.

Add to that teeter-totter deviances in sexuality, class and education, and there's a crush of folks ass out for the next dozen or so years. I predict 12 years, because during the wane of the Clinton Administration we were just emerging from all the damage done during the Reagan regime.

Therefore, by the time my grade school-aged nephews graduate from college, we might begin another perpetual cycle of new dawning.

Until then, hang in. We're only having a period.

Kathy's collection of columns, Your Negro Tour Guide: Truths in Black and White, is available in bookstores now.

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