Shuffle the doggone deck

Isn’t it about time we played the race card?

James DenBoer is a Sacramento poet whose most recent collection is Stonework: Selected Poems from Swan Scythe Press.

I’m an old, white, heterosexual male, mostly European, and I can’t do anything about it. Don’t particularly want to. And guess what? I’m just the kind of guy who keeps getting the job of running this God-abandoned country for all of its unhappy life.

But I don’t want to be part of that anymore. Now I’ve got a chance to play the race card.

Why not? Why is everyone so excited and disgusted and so against playing the race card? Because playing the race card seems only to mean another “should not” to add to all the others we suffer from. Why should we not bring up the question of someone’s race (if we’re white), and why should we not bring up the question of someone’s race (if we’re black—or a person of any other color)?

Because it just ain’t fair? Or relevant? Or polite? Or American? Does anyone think we’ve got a national government that’s fair, relevant, polite or run by “real” Americans?

This November, I am going to play the race card and no other. I am not going to vote for the white guy, for instance, because he’s white.

Oh, there’s a bunch of other reasons—Bush clone, loony, wife-rich, shoots from the hip, beholden—but primarily, I’m not voting for him because he’s white.

And I am going to vote for the black guy because he’s black. Well, half-black. Despite all the other reasons I don’t want to vote for him—Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act vote, offshore drilling, government support for faith-based groups, dodgy, pretty—at least, as a half-black man, he’s not fully implicated in more than 230 years of white-guy hegemony.

I’m playing the race card as a “should” rather than a “should not”—it’s time, finally, not to play fair or politely. It’s time to say race is relevant. And down the line, gender will be relevant. Sexual preference will be relevant. Maybe even being smart will be relevant. Maybe even not being Christian will become relevant. We’ve had one Roman Catholic president; all the rest Protestants, deists, Christians of one name or another. Every one of our presidents have been “Christian”! What about a Buddhist one of these days; a Hindu, a Zoroastrian, an atheist, a Wiccan, a Jew or whatever else there is?

We’ve been playing the religion card all along. Why not play the race card? It’s just too bad that the half-black candidate this year is not a Muslim. If he were, that would be another reason to vote for him—we could play both the race and the religion cards!