Free tea

Being the library mercenary that I am, I volunteered to help organize a new library in East New York a little while ago. Now if you know anything about East New York, you know the place is not over flowing with cafes where one can buy a cup of tea. So I wound up at the bodgea. The Arab guys who run the store are from Yemen and they practically freak out on my button.

“Tea? All you want is tea? You can have anything in this store for free because of your pin!”

Why are these guys so enthusiastic about Obama?

“He wants all troops out of Iraq NOW! Hillary voted for the war. George Bush was wrong to go to Iraq. He made America the enemy of the Arab people.”


There’s a guy who doesn’t speak English sitting on the newspapers, so the guy behind the meat counter is interpreting this conversation that I’m having with the cashier. He’s also adding his two-cents.

Meat counter says, “He says your button is nice. Obama looks nice, like a happy person.”

My Obama button gets me free stuff–I walk out with a hot tea.


March 30, 2007. Barack Obama, Bodega, New York City. Leave a comment.

Up in the Bronx…

Walking to the deli by my school to buy my butter roll and freaky coffee, the man on the pay phone starts in–

“Hey lady! Hey lady!”

Which can mean only one thing: he must know who’s face I’m wearing on my coat. So the guy hangs up the phone and follows me into the deli. I guess he called back later.

“Hey lady, who is that guy? I keep seeing him.”

Barack Obama. He’s running for president.

(I find in these conversations its best to give as little information as possible in order to prevent from hindering the conversation, so I just keep my mouth shut.)

“America is never gonna elect a black. The woman, yes, I think so, but not the black. In America there is still prejudice…but not so bad for women anymore.”

(and in almost the same breath)

“I never met a black I could trust. He’ll never get elected.”

Thank you for sharing your two-cents!

March 29, 2007. Barack Obama, Bodega, New York City. Leave a comment.

“…then I’m voting for him, too!”

The opportunity to discuss politics at an elementary barely ever presents itself, so when a 3rd grader asked me about the Obama button I had my chance.

“Ms. Green, who is that?”

Barack Obama. He’s running for president.

“Are you gonna vote for him?”

I hope so.

“Then me too!”

Too bad he won’t be able to register for at least 10 years. It makes me happy that the button helped awaken the political consciousness of an innocent.

March 29, 2007. Barack Obama. 1 comment.

“Is that your boyfriend?”


“I’m sorry, but the guy on this button is not my boyfriend. Actually, he’s running for president.”

And so begins another random discussion about Barack Obama. I’ve been wearing this button with Barack Obama’s face on my coat since the holidays. I got the button in Union Square from some dude selling political buttons right after the Democratic National Convention in 2004 (along with another button that said something like, “Bush we don’t want yo ass no mo!”). I never wore the button and had entirely forgotten about it until I found it attached to a sweatband that must’ve been from 2004, as well. The button itself is a simple picture of Obama smiling on stage at the Democratic National Convention. It doesn’t say his name anywhere on the button and people who recognize his face inevitably yell out his name excitedly–“Obama!”–the same way one might yell out “Bingo!”

March 29, 2007. Barack Obama, New York City. 1 comment.