A House Divided

From pillow talk to a political pillow fight.


I am tired of trying to explain this to my husband, so I'll explain it to you instead. I have been an advocate for the civil rights of African Americans since back when we were called Negroes. Growing up during the 50s and 60s in Chicago, I was well aware of the fault lines of bigotry that blocked me from entering certain neighborhoods, classrooms or stores.

As an adult, I have championed and joined every black cause. To my mother's disdain, I gravitated toward anything that had black in it. Nothing could be black enough for me. In more recent years, I even found myself following my hip-hop intellectual husband to a Source Magazine Awards show (let me tell you, that was more than black enough for me!)

So given my personal track record, I astounded myself when I realized that the person that I would travel the country campaigning for -- the person I trusted to work on behalf of African American children in need of Head Start programs, for people of color whose uninsured illnesses were left untreated, for single moms and working women who are treated as second class citizens with less pay for equal work than all my brothers of varied hue, and for minorities whose communities are targets of environmental racism -- was NOT black! Not a Negro!

Yes, this phenomenal black woman is standing beside the phenomenal white woman – Hillary Clinton. For this moment in HERSTORY, I will let this capable, more than qualified, compassionate and intellectual white woman clean up a white man's mess.

My darling husband will agree with me on my last few words about needing to clean up Bush's carnage. But the love stops there. Friends have asked me about our pillow talk this campaign season. "Pillow talk??? Girl, I need to have someone come and clean up all the feathers from our pillow fights!" is my usual response.

Let's say Michael and I have agreed to disagree. We find ourselves in corners of the same room whispering to our different camps about strategies and critiques. We are both suspicious and on watch so that our bright ideas don't end up being used in our opponents' campaigns. When it gets too intense, we call a truce, come to the communal table and dine together. Then we quickly kiss and return to our political work.

Luckily we have the Republicans to rally around. We both agree they MUST go.

But when Michael presses me on my support of Hillary, I tell him what I'll tell anybody – especially as we head into the March 4th primaries. This is, after all, Women's History Month. After 150 years, it's time to change the punctuation mark of Sojourner Truth's famed line, "Ain't I a Woman?" from a question mark to an exclamation point: "Ain't I a Woman!!!"

Yes, Hillary, you are! The WOMAN for the job of president of these here United States. What Obama has us hoping for, Hillary is ready to deliver. And for the first time in American HISTORY "ladies first."

Marcia Dyson is the author of the forthcoming “Awakening Eve: Arousing the Political and Social Consciousness of Women,” and the wife of the professor and writer, Michael Eric Dyson.