The "Shug Avery" Effect: Processing The Vote & Using "The Color Purple" As A Lense For Examining Election 2012 By Nicole Anderson Cobb, PhD
Since Tuesday's election, I have been in a haze of disbelief, cold
medicine, congestion and coughing fits that haven't allowed much room for
anything coherent---beyond work, child care drop offs and snuggling up against
my humidifier for relief---until today.
However, between fitful naps and soaking in all of the election
post-mortems, I have finally found my footing...and find myself in that same old
location HUNNNNNGRY for the voices and perspectives I never here.
So, here I go...lurching in to where angels fear to tread.
In the pundit circles, the post-election conversations has been fixated on
1.) Blaming the Republicans for ignoring the demographic shifts
in the country
2.) Pundits---ever chasing the hot news story---are throwing
themselves headfirst into fiscal-cliff mongering.
And yet, FOR ME, I can't even get there YET. I just need a
moment to slow down and process what happened on Tuesday night---DESPITE all the
s*** that has splashed up on me--- that led up to that moment.
THHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSS election was one filled with
name-calling, fear-mongering and accusations:
Dirty Angry Money.
Become An American.
Bring Back "The White" In The White House.
Take American Back.
Sanctity of Marriage.
No Need To See MY Birth Certificate.
Binders Filled With Women.
Say That A Little Louder, Candy?!
Takers Vs. Makers.
Wanted to swing on the President.
...And it just went ON AND ON...
So, for me, despite the Obama victory, how does one move past all the slime
spewed into the atmosphere?
Just because you both come out and give shiny,
conciliatory election night speeches---after 2 years of hate and fear
rhetoric---doesn't pass muster with me. I ain't quite there yet. I need a lil'
more time to recover from all that frenzied, toxic, political air
Furthermore, with regard to the "It's Demography, Stupid" mantra
splattered across the headlines and airwaves, the notion that---in light of
defeat--- you have to retool your message to appeal to Brown voters is
aggravating and offensive as well. This idea that NOOOOOOOOW you need some
gimmicks and brown faces to win in 2016 or 2020 to embody your message of hate
and exclusion is outrageous.
In addition to voting FOR President Obama over Governor Romney, THE
AMERICAN ELECTORATE VOTED AGAINST being insulted and threatened with
THEY VOTED AGAINST being disrespected and called "food stamp voters".
THEY VOTED AGAINST being terrorized at their polling places.
THEY VOTED AGAINST billboards and surveillance in their
THEY VOTED AGAINST being denied the right to participate in their democracy
...they are old;
...or happen to be students;
...or don't drive;
...or because they live in a swing state;
...or are poor;
...or are Black or Latino..
...or Black AND Latino...
...or any number of configurations that equal non-white, non-wealthy,
...or they are female;
...or single and female;
...or considering an abortion;
... or survived an abortion;
...or endured a rape;
...or don't have a lunch hour at all and needed to vote early
...or live in a district with understaffed polling places, poorly trained
poll workers or malicious state officials determined to menace them.
So before you start working on your strategy for 2014 or
2016, YOU OWE US AN APOLOGY!!!
All those who
sought to suppress, harass, intimidate:
YOU OWE US AN
...for the trauma, for the inconvenience, your audacity to
believe that we can be abused so fiercely that we'd stay home...and let your
voters win the day.
And if you are unwilling to apologize, consider the following:
PRESIDENT OBAMA WON RE-ELECTION...But even more importantly and
NOVEMBER 4, 2008 MEETINGS TO DEFEAT THE PRESIDENT lost.
THE DESIRE TO MAKE BARACK OBAMA A ONE-TERM PRESIDENT lost.
SIN---in all of its forms---lost.
One other line of thinking emerged from my early reflections on this election.
For many in the African American community, Alice Walker's"The Color Purple"
continues to provide rich life lessons as a dear friend, Pastor Angela Shannon
and I, recently spoke about this book and it spiritual dimensions shortly before
Interestingly, as bits and pieces of that conversation came back to me about an entirely different subject,
this election 2012 triggered for me that fateful scene----depicted in
the clip below--- at the dinner table in the Speilberg film when the film's
heroine Ms. Celie stands up to her abusive partner and utters powerful words from
the table all the way out to the car:
Up until November 6, 2012, the GOP behaved like the petulant "Mister"
character---so entitled,so fixated on obtaining his desires and bent on
maintaining his priveledge that he couldn't appreciate what he had in his
midst...nor could he disconnect himself from the toxic culture of oppression and
patriarchy that had served him and men like him for generations.
And in many ways, President Obama's term was embodied Ms. Celie's early
life---abused, brutalized, long-suffering, patient, observant, cautious,
steadfast, marked by some intermittant victories, always working and
And yet November 6, 2012, many of the American people
EMBODIED THE SPIRIT
OF SHUG AVERY: BRASH, BOLD, FEARLESS, SELF-AWARE, EVOLVING IN PLACE, UNWILLING
TO BE BRUTALIZED ANOTHER MOMENT BY ANYONE, ANY SYSTEMS, ANY AUTHORITY, WILLING
TO CLAIM THE LIFE, THE PATH, THE LEADER THAT WOULD TAKE THEM FORWARD.
So in this Celie/Shug partnership, the American people---not all of them,
but a majority of them who voted--- wrapped their arms around this President and
said: It's been a hard road. WE SEE YOU...WE REALLY DO. You have done all you
could. WE SEE YOU. We are here for you. WE SEE YOU. We are willing to support
you as you go and as you grow...for all our sakes.
So, the video that was released---with the President in tearful
gratitude---was revealing. I read the tears as sweet relief, as release, as an
opportunity to let go a bit---an opportunity to let go of six years of
efforting, seeking, proving, disproving, fighting, calculating, judging,
misjudging, accomplishing, warring, disappointing, discouraging, battling doubt
and demonization of his every action.
NOW perhaps---after this extended period of darkness, worry, fear and
angst--- joy will come for the President and the rest of us.
However WE WILL NOT BE BETTER TO ONE ANOTHER--- unless we are not willing
to examine what we've done to one another.
I pray thee well, America!
---Nicole Anderson Cobb, PhD
Nicole Anderson-Cobb, PhD, Educator, Playwright & Founder of Samaritan Road Productions is the author of the SRP blog "Writing On The Go"