It’s all good votin’ for Obama in the Detroit ‘hood


This post was written at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 4. Counting down…

Ain’t nothin’ like goin’ to vote in the ‘hood.

I’m pleased to report that it was a wonderful day here in Detroit. Weather was close to 70 degrees, and hardly a cloud in the sky. My wife, my stepson and I all showed up to the polls at 10:45 a.m. Two hours later we were done and headed back home.

But it was what took place between 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. while standing in that line that let me know this is how we do it Detroit-style. ‘Cause in Detroit, hey, we might not show up to vote much, but when we do show we show up in force and we bring the party with us.

In Detroit, we do votin’ right, y’all.

And it’s funny because I’ve lived here for 15 years, and my wife was born and raised here. We’ve been married ten years, and we have never, ever missed an election for anything the entire time we were married – or prior to being married. We just don’t miss a chance to vote. And practically every other time we have showed up at our regular west-side church location to cast our ballot, we can regularly count on walking right on in, casting our ballot, and walking right back out again. No muss, no fuss. And no line. Because nobody ever votes.

But on Nov. 4, 2008? Lemme tell you there were negroes – and two white folks that I counted – standing in line ready to do their duty. There was the sister standing in front of us with the close-cropped blonde afro who had an ongoing battle with a very persistent bee. I don’t know what it was about her, but that bee stayed locked in on her until we finally made it inside.

Then there was the elderly sister wearing the gold-colored long coat with faux leopard fur cuffs who told my wife “bless you” when she complimented her on how regal she looked as she made her way down the street on her cane. There were a fairly large number of the hip-hop generation who I am almost certain were voting for the very first time and appeared to be enjoying every minute of it. Several times a youngun would drive by in a juiced up hoopty with speakers pumpin’  and shouting O-ba-MAAAA loud and proud to the nodding crowd in line.

O-ba-MAAA! What? WHAT!? O-ba-MAAA! Huh. What?

Those of you familiar with the rhythms of the ‘hood go ahead and fill in the beat. Everybody else feel free to improvise. Or ask somebody. Hey, we’re all  – black, white, red, brown, yellow, everybody – about to be learning something new over these next few years, so don’t be shy about subscribing to a steeper learning curve, hear? Because if you’re not ready to expand your horizons, then get ready to get left behind.

But what reminded  me this was the ‘hood for real was when the young brother showed up around noon carrying boxes of Popeyes Chicken that he started passing out to anyone standing in line who wanted some.

“C’mon now, I know y’all want some chicken, right? C’mon get some. It’s fresh. Here, take a box and pass it on down. How about you, brother? You all right? You want some chicken? Cool. How about you, sister? All right, all right.”

Later, after the chicken man  was gone, a brother in a security uniform was talking to one of the poll workers telling her that the guy who brought the chicken had brought it courtesy of Rep. John Conyers office, or at least that’s what the guy had said.

“He said ‘You feedin’ them?’ And I was like, ‘Naw.’ So then he asks me would it be OK if he brought some chicken for the people to eat. That’s what he said!”

Wait a minute. He brought some Popeye’s up here? Just now? Shit, I want me a bone!”

Not a half hour before that another young brother had been walking up and down the line with a large box full of barbecue potato chips, thanking everyone for their patience.

“Patience? We’ve been waiting 250 years for this!”, my wife said. But she still took the chips.

We both passed on the chicken, probably because we had images of a newspaper photographer hidden away somewhere ready to print front page photos of Detroit negroes munchin’ on chicken wings in line gittin’ ready to cast that MF’in vote ‘n shit. Something about that sent a bit of a chill up our spines. But then once I got inside and my stomach started growlin’? Yeah. Well then I was starting to think maybe I’d made the wrong move. The hell with the cameras and what other folks might think. We ’bout to get a brother in office anyway, so why act like we shamed of eatin’ chicken in public today? Shit, pass the chitlins and ribs too! Matter of fact, why doesn’t somebody set up shop out here and start doin’ nails and hair, right? Two hours is enough time, right?

OK, maybe that’s going too far. But just sayin’…

Once we got inside it was about another half-hour before we finally reached the voting booths, and it was seriously warm and close quarters up in there. I’m talking claustronegrophobic. If you didn’t have love in your heart for the folks, I mean that chest-thumping type of love, you probably would have experienced some rather severe form of breakdown before ever casting that ballot.

Once we finally made it to the room where the booths were located – we had paper ballots (thank God it wasn’t those touch screens) – everything seemed to be moving real smooth. Only a few folks had been pulled aside whose names apparently weren’t on the sheet and who therefore had to be checked out. But there was a sister right there at the door working a phone able to check right away on who was and wasn’t properly registered to vote. These folks were on it, ready, willing, and able to deal with whatever might pop up.

And then it came time to cast my vote…

Tonight we’re going to our church to watch the returns come in and to essentially lose our minds in celebration with like-minded folks. Our church is pretty political and activist oriented, which my wife and I both love, so it will be good to be in that environment.

Damn. This is really about to happen…

It’s now 1:20 a.m. Nov. 5 and we’ve just returned from church….

God is good.



~ by Keith A. Owens on November 5, 2008.

7 Responses to “It’s all good votin’ for Obama in the Detroit ‘hood”

  1. I am still wired.

  2. You and me both, Mike. You and me both.

  3. I cant believe it, but it sure feels good to say President-Elect Barack Obama!

  4. Latimer! Wow, it’s been a long time. Great to see you back at the “Spot”, and to hear from you again.

    And yeah, this is really beyond amazing, isn’t it? Gonna take quite awhile to process this and really believe it deep down…

  5. I feel so good today…I am still just hyped beyond reason!

  6. Yeah , I have been extremely busy , back in school with the family. I am glad to be back though I definitely missed the blogging world.

  7. Marvalus,

    I don’t know when I’ll ever some down from this. I know it’s gotta happen (gravity and all) but I swear I don’t know when…


    Just glad to have you back, man. And believe me I know something about having to drop out every so often. I was out for near six months not long ago, so I do know things happen.

    I’ll be checkin you out!

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