1. Professor Jill -- 2. The lunch table -- 3. Like Eleanor Roosevelt  -- 4. Divided We Stand -- 5. A letter to myself 
6. Grandma Mary -- 7. Lina casts the vote  -- 8. The InOutsider  -- 9. Caucus Spy -- 10.  King Pig

Chinyere G. Okafor

Obama & Other issues  Button 

 1. Professor Jill


This woman is in her wisdom years: been there, seen life, done that, and walks with a smile in her heart. Her students are always in class on time. They don’t want to lose the points for attendance. She insists that you must be there at the beginning of class to get the points.
“When I enter the class is the beginning of class. A minute after that, you’re late!”

“If you are going to class and you see her ahead of you; no need to hurry.”
“She always goes to the bathroom. It takes her two minutes and she’s out.”
“What does she do there in two minutes?”
“Dunno what women do.”
“I’ll find out.”
“I’ll ask Jane.”

In the bathroom, the professor places her books on the couch. She goes to the mirror: looks at her face, brushes the gray hairs with her hands and smiles. For her, the grey hairs are signs of how far she has come. The first grey hairs appeared during the custody battle with her former husband. More appeared a few weeks before the defense of her second degree. She knows her grey hairs and what they represent. She looks at them as signs of her achievement. She smiles, washes her hands and picks up her books.

Three students are by the door. She expects them to go into the class as she approaches. They don’t. They are on her way.
“What’s going on?” Jill says.
“We just want to tell you.”
 “We want to take the quiz and leave the class.”
“We don’t want to disrespect you; that’s why we want to tell you that-.”
“We’re going to El Dorado-.”
“To see Obama!”

The professor is shocked. She notes that they did not ask for permission. They told her what they would do. She read from their attitude that they cared less for her approval and her class than for their mission.

“Thank God, I’m for Hillary.” She thinks as she enters the class.


2. The lunch table

It is brunch time at Rhatigan Students’ Center. Coming from the icy weather outside, many people go to the hot food section.  Bryan goes to McDonalds. He gets a steaming hot cup of coffee too. His friend, Jude gets some pizza. They go to their usual table at the far corner of the east side near a window.

“This is not where I want to be at.” Bryan digs his teeth into the hamburger.
"You still want to come with me to El Dorado?”
“Sure. But if I miss the quiz-.”
“Send a message to Professor Greg. He will understand. After all, he told us about his involvement in the civil rights demonstration when he was at college.”
“You know Doctor Greg. He will not reschedule.” Bryan says.
“It’s your choice. This is a lifetime event. I’m off.” Jude stands up with his tray and coffee.

Bryan pushes the rest of the burger into his mouth and leaves. He walks towards the class. He is very slow; still trying to decide on what to do. He hunches his shoulders as the winter air seeps into his body. He still walks slowly.

 Meanwhile Professor Greg enters his office. He shakes off the snow on his coat and hangs it on the door. He puts on the Internet and opens his email to glance through the messages before going to class.

There are seven messages from his Advanced Method class. He opens the first one.
“Just want to tell you that I won’t be in class. I’m going to El Dorado to hear Obama speak. This is a lifetime event. I don’t want to miss it. I know that we have a quiz but I can always make it up.”

Cold air rushes into the professor’s office. He gets up to close the door.

The professor is not happy about the message.
“It’s okay for the student to choose what he wants to do.” He shrugs his shoulder.
“It’s not okay for a student to decide for me that I’ll give him a make-up.” He frowns and opens the next message.

“Professor, I won’t be in class today. I have to hear Barack Obama speak. Can I have a make-up quiz?”
“At least, this one respects my authority to be the one to make the decision about make-up quiz.”

He opens the third message.
“Professor, everybody is going to El Dorado. I want to be part of that history when it is written.”

On the whole he has seven such messages in a class of thirteen students. What will he do?
“If I teach six students, I will still repeat the lecture later for the benefit of the majority of the class who are absent. I’ll cancel the class.”
“It’s not fair on the six that will be there.” He gets up and picks his file.



3. Like Eleanor Roosevelt

Julia is a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. She also takes classes at Montgomery College in Rockville. She has two children. Her daughter, Chinwe, is fourteen and her brother is eight years old. Her divorced husband lives in Houston, Texas, married to another woman. She has a passion for American football and politics. Her son shares her passion for football and her daughter shares her passion for politics. It was nurtured in her as a child before her parents’ divorce.  Her father used to take her with him wherever he went to. He did not want the experience of baby-sitting her to prevent him from going wherever he wanted to go to.  He was going through divorce with Julia when Ken was born.

“I remember when we went to campaign for George Bush.” Chinwe says.
“You were very young then. Did you know what was going on?”
“Yes Mom. I was ten then. We went to the hall across the road from the church. Different people spoke. People clapped. I clapped so hard.”
“Maybe that’s why you like politics?” Julia says.
“You and daddy used to watch the debates. Daddy was a republican. You were a democrat.”
“No. We were both Independents.”
“Independents suck.” Ken is playing a video game.
Chinwe pats him on the head.
“Politics sucks.” He says with his eyes on the game.
“You’ll change your mind when you grow up.”

Julia has gone to work. Chinwe is alone when their father phones from Houston.
“Where is your mother?”
“At work.”
“What of your brother?
“Who are you with?”
“I’m almost fifteen years’ old, Dad.”
“I forgot that you are now a big girl.”

“Dad who are you voting for?”
“Because he’s black?”
“He’s not black.”
“Dad, he’s black.”
“He is half black and half white. He is socialized by his white mother’s family in white culture.”

“Are you saying that he is not black?”
“He is half black in color.”
“Then why are you voting for him?”
“He is a good organizer. He has organized American youths. He unites people and has got black people who said that he was not black to unite with white people who say that he is not white. He also got us workers on his side. So America should give him a chance and show the world that America can go beyond color to elect someone like him.”
“I hear you Dad, but I wrote an essay at school on why Hillary should rule America.
“Tell me.”
“May I bring it and read it to you.”
“No, tell me about it. Convince me.”

“Okay. America has had forty three presidents, all men. Women deserve a chance to show that they can rule.”
“Good point.”

“From 1848 when we had the first Women’s convention in America, women began to fight for their right to vote. It took them a century to get it in 1920. How long do they want women to fight this time before we can have a woman at the white house?”
“Women have been at the white house since the first man went to the white house.” Okay says.
“No dad.”
“Yes. They have been first ladies. Some of them were more powerful than the presidents.”
“That’s true. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong first lady. I represented her in a debate once.
I like the way she stood up for Marian Anderson when other white women did not allow Marian to perform at the Constitution Hall in Washington DC because she was black.”

“Who is Anderson?”
“She was a world renowned concert singer and the third highest concert box office drawer in America in the twentieth century.”
“I’m so proud of you my daughter. You will go places.”
“I am still interested in becoming a pediatrician. That’s one of the reasons why I like Hillary. She likes children.”
“Go for it.” Her father does not want to say that Obama likes children and has two of them in his house. He is happy that his daughter has her own mind. 


 4. Divided We Stand

They classify Elizabeth as a stay-home-mom but she has so much contempt for the classification because it does not define her. She takes the children to school, does their home work with them, goes to their games, does all the work at home; most of the work. Her husband, Doug, helps out when he is not on a business trip. Elizabeth likes her work because her family cannot function without her vital role. What she hates is how others see her role as “no work” and call her “stay-home-mom.”

She is by the window admiring the snow flakes. They have predicted that it will snow all week in Maine and suspected that it might disturb the primaries.  Her son’s cell phone rings.  She hears Doug Jr. tell a friend how important his father is because of his work.

“He works really hard. That’s how we can have all these big cars and prime horses.” Doug Jr. speaks on the phone.
“My Mom works in our family company. That’s why I want to study accounting and law. I’ll work there as a partner.” His friend says. Elizabeth does not hear this but she is infuriated by her son’s next statement.
“My Mom doesn’t work. She’s a stay-home.” He laughs.

Elizabeth calls her two children, Carol and Doug Jr.
“Sit down.”
“What is it Mom?” Doug Jr. says.
“Sit down!”
Carol sits.
“I don’t want to sit.” Doug Jr. puts his two hands on his waist. He is seventeen and over six feet. He looks down at her face that is seven inches below his.

“Why do you tell your friends that I don’t work?”
“Because you don’t.” Doug Jr. says.
“You know all the work that I do in this house and I have explained to both of you that I am not-.”
“Give me a break. Speak to the media.” Dou Jr. walks out.

Elizabeth is an avid supporter of Hillary. Doug Jr. and his friends are for Obama. Carol goes along with them for the excitement of it. She likes it when they include her in the activities. What she likes most is when they make phone calls and tell people about Obama. After an outing with her brother and his friends, she tells her mother how she convinced three Independents to vote for Obama.

“Sit down.”
“What’s wrong Mom.” Carol says.
“You are sixteen years old and becoming a woman. Listen to me.”
“Don’t bully her.” Doug Jr. says.
“Get out of here. This is women’s caucus!”
“Whatever.” Doug Jr. leaves the family room.

Elizabeth has always encouraged her children to be independent-minded, but she now feels that their independence has gone too far.

“You have to come with me to the Hillary campaign.”
“I don’t want to. Everybody is going for Obama. Dad is there-.”
“Dad is a man. Men support Obama because he is a man.”
‘That’s not true. It’s because he is for change.”

“Hillary is for change also. She will be the first woman president.”
“Obama wants to change America. He has changed me. I am now interested in politics. I now know that my voice can make a difference. I am for change.” She stands up.
“Sit down.” Elizabeth’s voice is firm.
“You are my daughter. I nursed and nurtured you and your brother all these years. He walks out on me when I talk to him just like men do to women. Do you want to walk out on me like them?”

It is Super Tuesday. Chad comes early to pick Doug Jr. and Carol up for campaign.  Elizabeth is arranging flowers in the living room when Chad enters.
“Hi Ms Elizabeth.”
“Are you guys going to campaign?” Elizabethe says.
“Yes. And maybe I can have a last shot at convincing you about Obama.”
Chad.” Elizabeth says.
Chad looks at her.

Chad.” Elizabeth says.
“Yes Ms Elizabeth.”
“You know that I love you like my own son.”
“Don’t ever. Don’t ever try to convince me about that man!”
“Yes Maam. Sorry Maam.”

The snow is several inches high. People are already out there; lined up in the snow. Chad and Doug Jr. are having their last shot before the voting. They speak to people on the line and tell them why they should vote for Obama. Chad is surprised to see Carol on Hillary line.
“What are you doing there? Come and campaign with us.” Chad says.
 “I’m not coming with you. I want to be with my gender.” Carol says.
“Excuse me.” Chad moves on with Doug Jr. behind him.
Elizabeth smiles at her daughter, Carol. 

The idea of her son campaigning for Obama gets the better of her.
“Who cleaned and nurtured you all these years.” She digs her hand on the neck of his coat. Doug Jr. stretches his hands and slides out of the coat.
“Our house is divided Mom. Get used to it.” He follows Chad.
Elizabeth throws his coat at him. It falls on the snow. Carol picks it up and runs after her brother.

5. A letter to myself

I am twenty three years old. I am not political, but I have a connection with a presidential candidate and I want to understand it. This is a note to me and you can read it. My parents got separated when I was four. Harry was two. I remember preschool with Bobby. Mom would drop us off and come for us later. It was when I was older that I got to know that she was taking college at the time.

Harry and I liked “Mommy homework” time. Once Mom says “mommy homework,” we would get our drawing books. For us, it meant “time to draw and play together.”  It was fun time.

Mom was never a stay-home Mom. She worked as a canteen supervisor at Boeing Plant in South Wichita. That was where our Daddy worked at. They were in different sections. Me and Harry had the best of two worlds. We stayed alternate weekends with our Dad and stepmother, Alex. We also have a step-sister. I was in the 12th grade and my brother was in 10th grade.

When Mom went for training, we lived with Dad and Alex. Alex was a stay-home, so I asked her why she didn’t work.

“I work.” She said.
“No, you don’t.”
“I cook and clean. I take care of you and your brother. I also take care of Baby Brit.”
“That’s not work.” I said.
“Sure, it is.”
“You get paid?”
“No. Your dad earns money for the family.”
“Does he pay you?”
“I work for the family. He brings the money he earns to the family.”
“So you don’t get paid when you work for the family?”
“Something like that.”

From twelfth grade, I knew that I would choose to work at Boeing or at any other job that would pay me. When I heard Mom and John talk about their mean bosses, I began to think that I would not work for anybody.When Mom married my step-dad, John, both of them worked out of the house and did housework together. I kind of liked that. Bobby and me also cooked and cleaned and did the yard work with them.

My step-dad was the one that taught me how to cook. This is why I’m so confused about all this talk about gender oppression. He never told me that I couldn’t do anything because I was a woman. I played football and basket ball. He got a teacher to help us with our drawing because of our passion to express on canvas. That’s how I got scholarship for college. I still play Women’s basket ball. But I don’t think that it is gender oppression to have women’s team.

 I double major in business and art. I want to open my own business and be my own boss. I opened a blog where I sell my drawings. I draw portraits. I drew a portrait of the presidential candidates and placed them on my blog.

People began to send me more photos of Barack, Hillary, McCain, Romney and  many o other candidates. I kind of got interested and checked them out. I already know a lot about Hillary. She is upper class multiple times first lady. I got interested in Barack. He’s cool. He has a cool family too. His Mom and dad were divorced like mine. His Dad and Mom’s families love him just like mine. He has a sister and I have a brother. He has step-siblings just as I have.  I don’t want to vote for him because he’s black and I don’t want to vote for Hillary because she’s a woman. I have things in common with Obama. 

6. Grandma Mary

Grandmother Mary is sixty nine years old and on wheelchair. She has lived at Old Manor in Cayuga Heights of Ithaca, New York, since her marriage to Mr. Dayton, who inherited the manor from his grand uncle. The Manor is a vast estate with acres of hunting forest, golf course and farmland. Her grandchildren, Brittney and Jo Ann like to explore the farmland and the gardens. She has given them a book that they use to learn the names of all the plants and the flowers. She has also bought them ponies that they ride on the stretch of miles from the manor to the paved road that leads to the highway.

“They are good children just as their father.” Grandma looks at the framed photograph of her son hanging above the television.  She kept it there because she spends a lot of her time in front of the large screen television that he gave her two Christmases ago. She likes to see his face smiling down at her and assuring her that he is happy wherever he is.   

Watching the digital television, Grandma Mary remembers her life as a young girl in the late 1940s and how her parents’ house used to be the social center during television time.  They did not have television twenty four hours as we now do.  Few people had television in their houses then. Most people had the radio. When her father bought the television, she thought that it was a radio with a screen.   The kids in their quarter used to come to her house to watch the screen television.  They were used to Jack Benny on the radio, so they liked to see the show on the screen.

Grandma Mary cannot believe that things have changed so much in her life time. Now the television has become so huge that there are so many channels and you can watch them any time.  She presses the remote control and changes to CNN. A crowd is cheering Barack Obama. Mary cannot believe that America wants a black man to be their president. She remembers Amos and Andy comic show that imitated black people in the fifties. She presses the remote control.

A crowd is cheering Hillary. She smiles. She remembers how women fought to win the vote and how they fought for their rights. She cannot believe that a woman has come this far in her lifetime. A woman president of the United States of America! Grandma raises her hand in salute. She is awed by Hillary’s speech; her courage and confidence. A woman President! Grandma raises her hand again.

She remembers that she once wanted to be an actress so that she could appear on the television. She used to play Sally, the country girl that ran away to the city and became a dancer. Her sister always played the piano while Mary danced at their imagined concert.

“You will get married and be a respectable woman.” Her mother told her when she heard about her love for the fictional Sally.
“What is respectable?” Mary was a bit confused.
“You will get married and have children.”

Mary did just that when she was twenty two. She met James Dayton and has lived at the Manor since then. James was a pallbearer at the wedding of her cousin. She admired James’ confidence and gait as the wedding train walked the isle. When her sister commented on his jug-ears, Mary remembered her mother telling her that men’s looks were not that important.

“He’s at Cornell and he’s rich.” That was a good part of the attraction to James.
“How do you know?” Her friend, Jane, had said.
“Men that go to Cornell University are intelligent. That’s what my Dad said. And they are all rich or will be rich.” Mary said.
“I’m going to go to Cornell University. I am intelligent.” Jane said.
“Women don’t go to Cornell. That’s what my dad said.” Mary said.
“I will be the first woman at Cornell.” Jane said, but she never made it to college. She got a job where she hoped to save enough money that would help her in college. She got pregnant and that stopped her college ambition. The father of her child joined the army and helped her for a while before he died in Vietnam. There was no welfare support for single mothers then. She was also shunned at her church for being an unwed mother.

“Things have been hard for many women in this country.” Grandma Mary thinks as she recalls Jane’s plight as a mother. Mary once persuaded her husband to send money to Jane’s son when he was applying for college. Jane went to college as a senior and now works at Tompkins County Public Library in downtown Ithaca. Mary has not seen Jane for some time now and decides to invite her for coffee.

Now women can go to Cornell or to any university that they like. A woman now wants to be the president of the United States! Grandma Mary raises her hand. Her grandchildren have pushed the sliding door and are coming into the family room where Grandma is seated.

“Grandma, why do you raise your hand?”
“Victory to women!” Grandma raises her hand again.
“Have they won the war in Iraq?”
“We are doing home work on the women who are fighting in Iraq?”
“Long before Iraq, women have been fighting-.” Mary says.
“Tell us about it.”

The twins sit on the floor in front of their grandmother.



7. Lina casts the vote

Lina is a seventeen years’ old Cambodian American  in South Portland, Maine. She lived with her parents until very recently when they allowd her to move into a students' hall because of her achievement.  Although in high school, she takes classes at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. One thing about her is that she is very quiet. She hardly speaks in public. She does not speak in class but she is very smart and gets very good grades. 

This time she feels that she does not deserve the grade that the professor gave her. She phones he mother, Mayo, to complain and explain why she believes that her paper deserves an A+.
“Talk to the teacher.” Her mother, Mayo, says on the phone.
“You think I should?”
‘Talk to him.”
“I don’t know If-.”
“Stand up for yourself. That’s what America likes.” She hears her father’s voice in the background.
Lina is angry at herself for telling her mother about it. It is difficult to hide things from her mother because she phones her very often. 

“Why didn’t you phone yesterday?” Mayo says.
“I came back late from the library.” Lina squeezes her mouth as a sign of displeasure. She does not like the way her parents insist on knowing everything that she does. They don’t monitor her brother in the same way even though he is younger than she is. Her mother senses her displeasure and tries to smooth things over.
“You know that your father and I love you very much. We worry about you when we hear about all these women who get in trouble all the time due to no fault of theirs.”
“It’s okay Mom. I just came back late and went straight to-.”
“Everything alright?”
“Ye-s.” Lina hesitates before she says, “Sure.”

“How was your test? Did you make a good grade this time?”
“I made an A but ….” She stops talking.
“But what?”
“My friend that wrote exactly what I wrote got more than me.”
“Is she white?”
“He is white.”
“A white boy?”
“He’s from my High School. He’s also taking college classes.”

Lina tells her mother everything, yet she does not like to tell her mother everything. She has made friends with Joni and Melisa but she hardly speaks in their presence. They find it difficult to understand her accent and it embarrasses her. She tries to say as little as possible in class even when she knows that she has a good point to make. Speaking with her parents gives her the freedom to talk as much as she wants, but sometimes she resents the way her mother wants to know everything. Her mother even asks her what she is wearing in order to make sure that she is properly dressed. She does not really want to wear clothes that expose her tummy and boobs so she is pretty conservative in terms of dressing, but she still resents the fact that she is not like other girls. It makes her angry to see that her taste in dressing is different from the mainstream. She feels that her mother did not understand when she tried to discuss this with her.

“It’s okay to dress different.” Mayo said.
“I know, but-.”
“Don’t worry about it. It shows that I did a good job bringing you up to respect your body.”
“I think that other girls respect their bodies too.”
“You’re beautiful as you are.” Mayo said.
“That’s not what I’m talking about Mom.”

Her mother has always bought clothes for her until she moved into the dorm. Even in the dorm, her parents insisted that she roomed with another Asian girl. Lina resents what she regards as  her parents’ interference in her life. What makes her more angry is her going along with it. Now, her parents have checked out the presidential candidates and have decided on whom to vote for.

“Mike Huckabee is a Christian. He is against abortion. He will restore good morals to the world.”
“Mom, if he wins, he will be the president of America not the president of the world.”
“American president rules the world. We shall vote for him. When do you have time next weekend? We’ll come and pick you for the weekend. Then you’ll register to vote for Huckabee.”
“I’ll register in Portland.”

She did not register as a member of Huckabee's party. She registered as an Independent.

At scool, Lina does not shown interest in politics so no one includes her in their plans for political campaign. She has, however, followed all the controversy on the internet. She knows the top contenders in the parties. She knows that Obama and Clinton are the top candidates of the Democratic Party. She knows that McCain and Romney are the top republican candidates. Ron Paul is not doing well, but she likes his ideas on foreign policy and his concern for the poor. She does not understand why republicans are not toting for him.

“How are you my dear?” Mayo says on the phone.
“Fine Mom.”
“Today is the day.”
“I’m getting ready to be there in time to vote.” She says. 
"For McCain. You remember that he's  the one we  now support. He's-."

"I know a lot about McCain, Mama. He is an American hero. A veteran with a beautiful running mate."
"Beautiful wife also. He is for family." Mayo adds.
"And he's old and wise. Maverick."  Lina says.
“Good girl.” Mayo says.

Lina did not vote for her mother's candidate.


8. The InOutsider  

Anezi is an immigrant from Africa. Her name means Earth and her friends say that they like it, but they call her Aney.  Any is enthusiastic about America. She goes with her friends to watch the games. She likes football a lot. She does not really understand it, but she likes to check out the guys. There is super bowl party in Jen’s room in Wheatshocker house. Aney takes some pop corn and fruit juice to the party. 

Amanda and Jen wear Hillary T-shirts.
Jen tosses one at Aney.
“Thanks; but I don’t want it.”  Aney says.
“You’re for Obama?” Jen says.

Before Aney can say anything, Jen continues. “I can’t understand how any woman cannot be for her own gender. Women have suffered so much in the past and we have never had a woman at the White House.”

“I’m not allowed to have an opinion on who to vote for.” Aney says.
“You can have an opinion; but you cannot vote.” Jen says.
“That’s not what my visa says.” Aney says.
“Anyway, you can still have it. You can wear it on top of your blouse.” Amada says.
“Thanks.” Aney does not wear the shirt.

“And you can come with us to the caucus on Super Tuesday.” Amanda says.
“I’m not allowed to.”
“Sure you can come. It is a free world.” Jen says.
“Not yet for me in America.” Aney says.
“You’re not an illegal immigrant; are you?”  Jen says.
“She can’t be illegal. She’s a student. It’s just that her visa has conditions.” Amanda says.
“Let’s watch the games.” Aney is irritated by the questions and does not want to argue with anybody about politics and her visa.

It is almost six o’clock in the evening of Super Tuesday. Aney is in her room. Amanda and Jen have gone to the democratic caucus to vote for Hillary. She feels left out even though nobody left her. She gets ready to go to the library for her class group meeting. Aney knows that all the seven members of the group will not be there. Some have emailed to say that they were going to the caucus. She puts on very warm sweater over her blouse, puts on heavy boots to wade through any volume of snow that may fall. She takes her coat to leave, but the telephone rings. They have cancelled the group meeting because of bad weather. 

Aney does not stay back in her room. She still leaves the dorm. She still makes her way towards the library.
“I’ll still research for the group and also find out what a ‘caucus’ is like from the Internet.”

 It is only now that she realizes how much she misses not going to the caucus like all her friends. She knows that they will tell her about it, but she regrets not being able to get the story first hand.

Aney knows that the event will take place at the Metroplex on Twenty Ninth Street and Oliver Street. It is about two and half miles from her dorm. She crosses the road into the engineering building thinking about what to do. She does not have a cell phone. No company will sell a cell phone to her because she has no credit card. To get a credit card, she needs to have some history as a resident. To have a history, she needs a national Identification number and to get an ID number she needs a job. There are many international students looking for the few jobs on campus.

She exits from the back of the Engineering building and makes her way towards the library. She still walks slowly as she thinks about her predicament. You need a job in order to qualify for a National number. She has just got a job in the kitchen and has applied for an ID number. 

“But I can’t keep my life on hold just because I have no car and no cell phone.”
“I can go to the caucus. I can walk. I can run.”
“Yes, I can!” She smiles for she knows that the words are not really hers. She has heard Obama supporters say it several times. Aney turns back from the steps of the library. She makes her way to the caucus. She walks fast. She runs.


9. Caucus Spy

The weather is dry and cold. Anene makes her way from the Library of Wichita State University to the Metroplex on Twenty Ninth Street and Oliver Street. It is a distance of about two and half miles. Anene walks fast. She checks her watch occasionally. She has heard her friend, Amanda, say that they will close the gate at seven. She runs. She is lucky that the weather is dry and not yet messy. He winter boots make her legs heavy and slow down her pace. She pants. She is happy at the thought of “going to see the caucus.” She still does not know that it is not a show to see but an event to experience.

She is at the Metroplex before seven. There are more cars than she has ever seen at the place. When the popular Comedian performed there, she was amazed at the number of cars. When they had the GED exam, the two lots were full. This time, the lots, the front, back and even the road sides are full of cars. She is happy to see other people who have parked by the roadside and are walking. She joins them. She does not know where to go to and does not want to stand out. She follows the crowd.

She is surprised to see that everybody is going into the building. She had expected to watch the ‘show’ from a distance. She hesitates. She does not know what to say when they ask her to show her identity card, because she has none.

“Come on girl. It’s cold out there.” A man holds the door for her. He is a senior. He laughs.
“Thank you.” She smiles at him.

She is surprised to see the large crowd. You can’t move without rubbing your body between people. It reminds her of festivals in her home town in Africa. She is all smiles.

“Excuse me.” She smiles between people as she makes her way. Nobody is offended that she “invades” their space. They are also moving and “invading” the spaces of others. But nobody thinks of it in terms of invasion of space. It feels like family.

People are registering to vote. She stands for a while to look at the crowd.  So far, nobody has treated her differently. They have not even asked for her ID. A man passes by her. He is carrying a child of about three. She is surprise to see  that children also go to caucuses.

The child catches her smiling up at him. He stretches his hands. 
“Is this one going to vote too?” Aney touches the child’s outstretched hand, something that she would not have dared to do anywhere else.
“When he grows up, I want him to know that he was here when history was changed.” The man says. He makes his way into the auditorium.
It does not look like they are asking anybody for ID.
“I must see what is going on there.” Aney walks behind the man to the auditorium.

The auditorium is also full of people. They are telling people to leave the isle, but people are everywhere. Someone is giving instructions through the microphone.

“Obama supporters on this side of the auditorium.” The microphone voice is outdone by Barack Obama supporters.
“Obama! Obama! Obama!”

“Hillary supporters on this side.” The microphone is louder.
“Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” From the banners that go up, she can see that the enthusiasts are in the front of the right side of the hall.

Anene makes her way towards the Hillary side to find Jen and Amanda. The only way that she can get to the front without too much difficulty is to go round through the upper level. She goes through the left side isle and goes up. She is surprised to see that the upper levels are packed with enthusiastic supporters.

“Hey, you’re in my class.” Someone says.
“Yes. I’m Aney.” Anene says.
“I know. I’m Sue.”

Aney does not find her friends. 
She goes back to the back isle. People are talking.
“No caucus has ever been this full.” A woman says.
"It's like a fiar."
Anene opens her mouth like her eyes do not "consume" enough of the magic.

The woman tells her about different caucuses from the sixties. Anene does not hear or understand the woman’s stories but she enjoys the sharing and punctuates it with ‘year’ and ‘really.’ The woman does not tell her that she has a foreign accent, does not even ask where she is from. She reminds Anene of her grandmother who always cooks a lot of food because she expects to share with anyone that comes by.

“I’m going to the bathroom.” She says.
“Stay and be counted.” The woman says.

She goes to the bathroom. There is no other person in the bathroom except Anene. Every other person has to be counted. She does not feel left out. She is very happy. She brings out her small year planner and writer: 

“This is America that I have never seen before. It is warm and friendly. 
It does not care who you are, your color or your age. 
Men and women are like boys and girls - full of fun.
Without race without gender, this is America that I love.”

Outside, the snow has covered all the cars. 
No one knows which one is his or her car. 
People press their panic buttons.
“Peee,” “uu,” “ew-ew.” 
Noises fill the air as people try to locate their cars.

“Here we go again.” Aney says and shakes her head.
She wades through the snow with the smile still on her face.


10. King Pig


Lynnette was eight in 1960 when Martin Luther King died. Even though she was young at the time of the civil rights movement, she remembers her mother always telling her how the movement would change things.

“I left Tennessee because of you. I had no chance picking cotton twice a year. I saw you becoming just like me. So when we got word that Dr. King said we should register to vote, we did just that. But we got kicked out by the land owners because we dared to register to vote. Blacks were no longer slaves but the treatment had not changed. Black men were given the right to vote way back before women got the right to vote, but nobody gave blacks the chance to vote. So when Dr. King said ‘go’ we went and registered. We got kicked out of the farm. So I moved with your father from Fayette Tennessee. We’ve been in Chicago from 1958. You were months old then.” Her mother, Georgia, said.

“What happened to my dad?’
“Police picked him up and threw him in jail.”
“What did he do?”
“I told you before girl. You didn’t have to do nothing at that time to be thrown in jail if you’re black. Jail was better than lynching.”
“In the past, they would have burnt him alive.”

“I tell you these things girl. Never forget your history. Always look forward to what you can do to change things in this country. God created this country to be great. Look at the things it has, but some people want all to themselves. They don’t want us to share the freedom and the good things in this country. This is why we want change. All good people want change.” Georgia said.

Life in the city had not been much better than life in rural Tennessee, but Lynette did not have to pick cotton half of the year and go to school in winter, as her mother did. She went to school all year. Her mother worked as a maid all day, seven days a week. She had little time to spend with her daughter, so Lynette learnt to be on her own and by herself. Her mother needed all the money that she could make in order to give her daughter good education.

“Girl! There is hope in the good Lord. That’s what doctor King says and I believe him. When black people win this fight, I’ll get a normal job that will give me time to come to your school events. We have to win the big fight to end segregation, then I can be truly proud of this my country that I love so much.” Georgia said.
“Mom, you speak stylish English like my teacher.”
“I learn from Doctor King. I learn from the radio. Girl, you too! Learn his speeches. They’re given to him by God. They’re not his words. They come to him from the Almighty.”

Georgia died of hepatitis C infection and did not live to see Lynette graduate from City College on East Lake Street. When Lynette read the valedictory message at her graduation, she paid a tribute to her late mother, “who fed me with hope in what I can do, who taught me that I should not wait for change, but to become an agent of change. Today, for the first time in my adult life, I am truly happy to be an American, because I am standing here as an example of the changing America that my mother hoped for. I am a woman from the wrong side of town but this great school chose me to deliver this speech even though I am black and even though I am a woman.”

The College has given her a job at Students’ Life, but Lynette dreams big like her mother. She wants to own a house and give her son a life that is better than her own. Like her father, her son’s father wound up in prison. But unlike her father, her husband did something. He was one of the students who were caught with drugs at the Super Bowl party.

Lynette works at College five days a week and works as a nanny on weekends. She takes her son with her to Ms Johnson’s house where she spends all day taking care of Matt Johnson. The house is a hug house on Johnson Street in East Chicago. She takes Lamar to her baby-sitting job. Lamar is a year younger than Matt so they play together. Lynette gives them a story book, The Three Pigs, to read and draw from. She sits in the garden with her lap top and reads for her Internet class. The boys are on the lawn playing the characters in the picture book by speaking their words. Suddenly, all is quiet. She looks at the boys and sees that they are no longer playing. Matt is playing alone. Lamar is quiet.

“What is it boy? You and Matt fighting?”
“Na-a. I want to go home.” Lamar says.
“Matt, what happened?”
“He wanted to play the Pig with a good house. I told him he can’t because he’s black. The wise pig is white.”
“Matt, look at me. Anybody can be anything he wants to be.”
“How come you don’t own a big house and a big car? Don’t you want a big house like my Mom?” Matt says; his innocent eyes on Lynette.
“Of course I want a big house and that is why I am working hard to improve myself and make more money.”

“Boy! You can be anything you want to be. That’s why I work hard to provide for you and send you to a good school. Don’t ever listen to anybody who tells you that you cannot follow your dream and be what you want to be just because you are black.”
“What is my dream, Mom?”
“You just told me your dream. You want to be the one that succeeds like the wise pig. You want to be like the wise pig that do what his mother tells him to do and what his teachers tell him to do so that he will be respectful and hard working. You want to be like the pig that went to college and got good grades and got a good job.”
“What is the job Mom?”
“A very good job that he used to help other people.”
“Like a doctor who fixes people when they are sick?”
“Yes, like a doctor.”

 Lynette takes his hand.
“Come, let me tell you about another boy like you that had a dream. People tell him that he can’t do it and he says, “Yes I can! His name is Barack Obama!”
“Obama! Obama! Obama!” Lamar jumps up and down.

“Obama! Obama! Obama!” 
Matt jumps up and down.

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Page title: Hilariously Obamized
Last update: March 25, 2011
Web page by C. G. Okafor
Copywright © Chinyere G. Okafor
Contact: chinyere.okafor@wichita.edu