Comfort Level Rising

Obama looks and sounds more presidential as Clinton appears to fade.

She must have seen the expression on Ken’s face, so she parked her family in the row immediately behind him. Sure enough, after exchanging pleasantries and when no one else was around to notice, the woman gently tapped Ken on the shoulder and said: “I’m really glad you’re here. I sat by you because I’m not comfortable around all these black people.”

Ken told me he was shocked. Embarrassed, too. “I mean, here they are at an Obama rally with three kids and she’s telling me she’s afraid of black people? It was quite startling.”

I don’t think so.

The White Woman may be a living, breathing, walking human contradiction. But she’s also the problem and the promise at the heart of Obama’s hope to win in next week’s Ohio Democratic primary. She’s also the type of voter — new to politics and desperate for change — who floods into cavernous halls to hear Obama speak. And many of them bring their children, too.

Can Obama make The White Woman set aside her discomfort? Will she and others like her vote for this remarkable black man, who draws nearer and nearer to the top job in America, even as the legions of dark-skinned folks around him scares the bejesus out of her?

I’m betting that she will. After all, she ventured into inner city Cleveland to hear him speak. So many white folks say they never come downtown for any reason because there are just too many of “them” for comfort’s sake.

But The White Woman’s set aside such foolish fear. If only for one night, she craved the promise of something different to believe in. I call that hope.

Sam Fulwood III is a regular contributor to The Root.