The Obama Effect On The Black Community

With just one week to go until Election Day, patrons at a popular Starbucks in a black Los Angeles neighborhood talk about the campaign.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

It's Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick with Madeleine Brand, except she's back in the studio. I'm here a couple of hours before the program begins at a Starbucks at a place called Ladera Center. This is a Magic Johnson Starbucks. We're continuing the conversations we're having with black voters about the election that's coming next week.

Ms. HAZEL MORRISON: My name is Hazel Morrison (ph). I'm from Los Angeles, California.

CHADWICK: So, tell me, with the election coming this next week, what are your different expectations if Senator Obama would win or Senator McCain would win? How are your expectations different for a President Obama?

Ms. MORRISON: Well, as an independent, I want to vote for the person that I feel has the most passion and has the best idea for our country.

CHADWICK: Do you know who you're voting for yet?

Ms. MORRISON: Yes, I do.

CHADWICK: And who would that be?

Ms. MORRISON: Obama, 80 percent, 20, McCain.

CHADWICK: Well, tell me about that 20?

Ms. MORRISON: Well, McCain has some good ideas. I believe Obama has better, but I don't want to write off McCain either. Obama, on the other hand, has fresh, innovative ideas, history being made whether he makes it or not. I'm just grateful in my lifetime that I'm able to see something like that and be a part of it because I never thought, at 54, I would even be a part of anything like this. I thought this would be for the next generation, my children, perhaps. So, these are very, very exciting times that we're in.

Dr. JOSEPH OLIVER: My name is Joe Oliver (ph), Dr. Joseph Oliver. I'm a dentist. I live in Ladera, and my office is in Torrance, California.

CHADWICK: Are you voting next week?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. OLIVER: Of course.

CHADWICK: And do you know who you're voting for?

Dr. OLIVER: Yes, I do.

CHADWICK: And would you mind sharing that with us?

Dr. OLIVER: It's generally, you know, something I like to keep to myself, but I'm voting for Barack Obama for a lot of reasons, really. He's just a very brilliant man who has a good vision for the country, and I think that he's on the right track and can start the country on the right track.

CHADWICK: Would the presidency of Barack Obama change the way that you felt about yourself and your own life, your own aspirations and plans or those of your kids?

Dr. OLIVER: I don't know that it would change it a great deal because I have a lot of faith in the system as it is. Certainly, I like the idea that, in the minds of young black people, there would be an awareness that you can achieve anything in this society, which is my basic feeling in the first place. Yeah. So, to an extent, it would change it a bit, yeah. I would know for sure that there is not really a glass ceiling, so to speak, on ambition and energy and commitment and determination.

Mr. MOE ROGERS: My name is Moe Rogers (ph), and I live in Englewood, California.

CHADWICK: You're voting next week?

Mr. ROGERS: Yes, most definitely.

CHADWICK: And can I ask if you know who you're voting for?

Mr. ROGERS: I'm voting for Obama.

CHADWICK: To have a black man elected president, would that change in any way your idea of your own life, your own expectations for yourself, maybe your own idea of limitations for yourself?

Mr. ROGERS: Well, for me, a black president in America, of course, is unprecedented. And I think only something like that could happen in America. It shows the greatness and the possibility of America. And yet, at the same time, it shows profound contradictions because we have a long way to go.

In a way, we've already won because he's been nominated for the Democratic nominee, and he could win. Hopefully, he will win, as far as I'm concerned. But in a way, as a person of color, we have won because we've got this far. Of course, it makes me feel good, and I can tell my son, in his lifetime, if you want to run - grow up, you can be president of the United States. That could never have been said before.

And also, people forget, he's as much white as he's black. So, why do white people want to come around and say, what is he going to do for him. I mean, it's the same thing. People forget that. Yes, of course, he's a black American, but he's an American first, and the fact that he's a true African American in as much his father's from Africa, he's a true African American. So, to me, it's kind of ironic that he comes along at this time with what we went through as people of color, an African American, a real African American, I think that's fateful what's happening.

Mr. MICHAEL DOUGLAS: I'm Michael Douglas (ph). I'm originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, and I'm a writer.

CHADWICK: And tell me you're voting next week?

Mr. DOUGLAS: No, I don't vote.

CHADWICK: You don't vote.

Mr. DOUGLAS: No, I don't vote. I would vote if I thought that I had a candidate that had my interests in mind. What's being sold to black America in Barack Obama to me is not necessarily what it looks like.

CHADWICK: What do you mean?

Mr. DOUGLAS: Well, what I mean is, here's a guy who, four years ago, nobody didn't know him til he made a speech at the DNC. Now, all of a sudden, he's the savior of black America. And I look at him as someone who white America have put out in the public to wash away their sin of slavery because Barack Obama is not a descendant of slaves in the country.

Now, that don't disqualify him to do what he's doing, don't get me wrong, but how he's been packaged and sold to black America, who put him in the position to win their party nomination, isn't real. And we bought it hook, line, and sinker, like we buy everything else white America sells us.

CHADWICK: OK, that's it from a Starbucks at the Ladera Center. I'm going to go back to the studio. Madeleine, you take this next intro, will you?

BRAND: OK, I'll do that. But first, I want to direct everyone to the blog, where there is a lively discussion going on this topic. npr.org/daydreaming. If you want to weigh in, go there and put in your two cents.

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