News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Imagine if it had been one of Obama’s daughters

News of Bristol Palin’s unwed pregnancy has drawn much sympathetic head nodding among the GOP faithful. “It’s happened in the best of families,” seems the most common reaction—and I agree. Many young women have been carried away by a moment that seemed so right at the time. Unfortunately, the consequences are often a mother and father who are not emotionally or financially ready to become parents and an atmosphere of shame; hardly the ideal environment in which to raise a child. That’s why our culture encourages young people to wait until they have a stable home before they make the choice to have children.

All the same, I wonder if the Republicans who have been so sympathetic to Bristol’s fate would be as sympathetic if it was one of Obama’s daughters who were pregnant and out-of-wedlock? Would we hear the same compassion? I very much doubt it. I suspect a pregnant black teenager would have regressive tongues wagging about irresponsibility and uncontrollable urges. In the usual racist code words, she would be cast as a role model for the perceived sins of her race.

Of course, Obama’s oldest daughter is only ten. So the possibility of a pregnancy is out of the question. Still, I have little doubt that if the tables were turned, the conversation would be tainted by the same racism that has stained every aspect of this campaign among some voters.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez