We heard a lot about Joe the Plumber at last night's final Presidential Debate, but what about Jamal the Plumber?
I met him over coffee early this morning to get his opinion.
"I don't want to sound petty," he said, "but it should have been my turn to shine. I have issues and concerns too."
"Like what, Jamal?", I asked.
"McCain been yapping 'bout what he's gonna do for Joe Sixpack forevah. I know Joe; we're in the same bowling league. He drinks entirely too much and ain't seen the crack of dawn since he caught the school bus 20 years ago. Last I heard, he was chilling in that Pennsylvania bar, clinging to his Bible and his gun and waiting for Hillary to visit again. He's not gonna even vote for McCain..."
I interrupted him. "Why not?"
"Joe got problems that John McCain said he won't fix, and Joe figured this out. He's been dying to get into a rehab for his alcoholism, but has no healthcare. McCain's plan ain't universal and thus, ain't gonna help him. That's the third reason why he was digging on Hillary so much."
"What were the first two?"
"She's white and can chug-a-lug."
"Jamal, come on, did he tell you this?"
"Not the white part, but I ain't stupid. When Joe got all pissy that 'the black guy' beat her out, he said he was looking at McCain a lot harder 'for his service to his country'. It was all I could do to keep a straight face."
I chuckled, knowing what he meant. Jamal looked at his watch and sipped his coffee before continuing.
He said, "McCain act like he don't really want black votes other than from handful of Negro GOP suck up politicians, and that strange fella in his audience last week who was begging him. Geez! That man looked like he had died and gone to heaven when McCain touched him! As a black man, I was embarrassed for him."
We both cracked up laughing.
"So McCain ain't got the black vote," Jamal said, "and I overheard Joe Sixpack say he might as well be black too for what the GOP will do for him, which is nothing, except keeping the White House white, so he's voting for Obama."
I asked, "So what about this new guy who McCain was talking about, Joe Plumber? Do you think he'll vote for him?"
"There's more than one Joe Plumber out there," he said. "The one I know told me last night that he didn't like his name being put out there like that. He thought it was funny a couple months back when McCain was bouncing Britney Spears name around without her getting her endorsement first. Upset the girl so much I think she wanted to go back to the hospital to get away from the paparazzi. Joe Plumber was pissed when it happened to him. He had a dozen camera crews outside his house last night. He refused to talk to any of them."
"Why wouldn't the Joe Plumber you know enjoy his 15 minutes of fame?"
"He's been going through a lot lately," Jamal answered. "I talked to him an hour ago about a job we'll be on this morning. Joe P. said his wife is four months pregnant and they want the baby, but she's having big time problems. The doctors are watching her closely, and they say she might need a late term abortion if her health becomes endangered, but McCain made it real clear last night that he don't play that."
"Was he a McCain supporter before?"
"His family has always voted Republican, but they ain't been happy during the Bush years. Joe Plumber said he lost his stomach for McCain after coming back from one of those hate rallies. He was standing near the guy that screamed "Kill him!" about Obama, and he was worried to death that the cameras panned on him. He knows how that guilt by association thing works in the media, and he don't want no one thinking he's a pal of a domestic terrorist threatening a public official. As Joe Plumber said, "I was just in the room, the same as Obama was with that Ayers guy. I didn't have a thing to do with what that man said or did." I couldn't agree more. I know Joe Plumber, and Joe Plumber is no domestic terrorist."
Jamal looked at his watch again. The sun was shining now, and I knew I had time for only a few more questions.
"So Jamal, what was your favorite part of the debate last night?"
"That's easy," he said. "Barack rocked it with all his answers. For one, he ain't gonna freeze all spending except defense like McCain will. He has a banging tax and health plan, and maybe best of all, he didn't renounce that black Congressman, John Lewis, for saying McCain's campaign rallies and ads had been planting seeds of hate. My man Obama is tired of being bullied for words that don't come out of his mouth. Lewis told the truth, but McCain and the haters been trying to back Obama into a corner like the racism don't exist. He stood his ground, yet at the same time, was cool about it."
"Have you experienced being hated on more in the past month or two?"
"I can feel it and see in the eyes of some white folks in certain areas, especially when I wear my Obama tee-shirt. I used to ignore the frowns, but I had a run in at a gas station with some yahoo boys who seriously were trying to bait me into a fight. Sometimes, late at night before I fall asleep, I wonder if I'll be attacked or shot or worse in a random act of violence by a bigot with a grudge when Obama wins."
I nodded, agreeing. "That's been on the minds of a lot of black folks."
"Yes," he replied softly, "and if it happens to me, I wonder if anyone in the media will care enough to ask one question."
His voice became even softer.
"What about Jamal the Plumber..."
10/16/2008 - I gave permission for Macon D. to reprint this article at his amazing, educational anti-racist blog, Stuff White People Do (not to be confused with Stuff White People Like). If you would like permission to reprint it, email me. ~ Kit