Anoka is So Not Post-Racial

Minnesota Public Radio has a story on the secret racists of the Twin Cities and how they’re not comfortable voting for Barack Obama.

For those who don’t think race will be a factor in this year’s election – you only need to listen to George Ziegler, a semi-retired barber from Anoka.

“I wouldn’t vote for that n—-r,” he said. “I wouldn’t vote for him. No way in heaven’s name would I give him a chance to take my vote and go in there. I’m smarter than that.”

This is the kind of shit that makes me want to stay as close to the city center as possible. This is the kind of shit that you think, at the very least, that people have the good sense not to say out loud. To a reporter, no less! And so it still surprises me, and scares the shit out of me.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union rep Bernie Hesse has this to say about the membership. Note that his union officially backs Barack Obama.

I also think with some of the older members, it’s a thing of entitlement. And they don’t think of it as race but think of it as, how dare a young black person run for president? He hasn’t put his time in, and why is he entitled to this?

“Entitled”?! *head explosion*

So is it better for folks like George Ziegler to be up front about their racism or for folks to be sneaky about it? Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland who studies race and politics, says plenty of folks are sneaky about their racism.

“People may have a racial motive, but they may say that Barack Obama lacks experience,” he said. “So they may use any pretext not to vote for him and support him when the real reason has to do with race and not something else.”

I never have a good answer to my question. And I’m staying the hell away from Anoka.

12 Comments so far

  1. moe (emoeby) on September 24th, 2008 @ 9:52 am

    The quote about not putting his time in reminded me of this NY Times article from last month, Is Obama the End of Black Politics?

    The article talks about black politicians that grew up in the civil rights era, and how Obama is so not from that point of view.

    As for Anoka, F*ck them

  2. barry on September 24th, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that not all Anokans are that bad.

    Perhaps we should go up there and invite George’s neighbors to start picketing Mr Ziegler’s barbershop with us, or at least a "semi-retired" picket! Let’s see just how smart he is. :)

  3. halfbaked on September 24th, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    Barry, it has been my experience that this is a classic and persistent attitude in Anoka. I am sad to see that this hasn’t changed since the 80s. My first thought is to boycott or picket, too!

  4. nekessa on September 24th, 2008 @ 11:55 am

    I am struck by this: "a third of White Democrats and Independent voters harbors some racist views towards African Americans." I don’t know why this is shocking… perhaps, because I live very close to the cities, and Erica like you I keep my distance from those small towns. :(

  5. Erica M (ericam) on September 24th, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

    I don’t know why this is shocking… perhaps, because I live very close to the cities, and Erica like you I keep my distance from those small towns.

    Yeah, this isn’t really news and yet I’m continually surprised when I encounter facts like these. I don’t know if it’s better to stay in my bubble in which I am surrounded by less-likely-to-be-racist people. I guess it’s kind of like how I still notice and am a little bit surprised by how many more brown people there are whenever I go to any other city the size of our metro area or larger.

  6. smarlett on September 24th, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

    To me, Anoka is not a small town. I grew up in a farming small town (450 people) in Wisconsin. My mom is the town clerk of a township outside of the "city" and the area regularly votes for Democrats. Obama even beat Hillary in the primary there this year.

    This is not a "small town" problem, nekessa, it is a generational and community problem. I would be willing to bet that this racism persists more in the outer burbs and mid-size cities like Hastings than it does in rural Minnesota (or Wisconsin).

  7. Erica M (ericam) on September 24th, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

    Anyone that lives anywhere can identify the parts of the city or suburbs or the county where certain people are more likely to feel unsafe, right? Blaine is always my Twin Cities example of a place in which I feel some level of threat.

  8. billhelm on September 24th, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

    i missed the memo that said if you were a racist you had to live in the suburbs or a small town. this shit persists everywhere, regardless of where you live. just because you don’t always see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  9. Ed Kohler (edkohler) on September 25th, 2008 @ 12:14 am

    Anoka shares too many of St Cloud’s values for my taste.

  10. sornie on September 25th, 2008 @ 8:35 am

    That one quote from the semi-retired barber firmly cements the stereotypes that many have about Anoka. Way to go Mr. Ziegler for proving so many right and saying it to a member of the media to boot!

  11. tipper on September 25th, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    I think it would be more shocking if Ziegler had been mentioned as being a Democrat. I didn’t see that in there. I do know that my grandma and her sisters (from a small town in Wisconsin), all hardcore Democrats, will just stay home rather than vote for Obama. Sad, but true.

    However, I think it’s ludicrous to say that people who believe that Obama lacks experience are just SECRET RACISTS. Hillary Clinton said Obama lacks experience; is she a racist, or is she just telling the truth?

  12. Erica M (ericam) on September 25th, 2008 @ 9:04 am

    Not everyone who believes Barack Obama lacks experience think he’s racist. The point, as the last quote of the post says, is that a lot of people won’t vote for him because he’s black, but they’ll cite other reasons such as his lack of experience rather than admit it’s because he’s black.

    I absolutely believe that that’s true.

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