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Karen Cooper, 38 - Tea Party Supporter, U.S. Mail Carrier

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I've lived in Richmond for about 15 years. I'm a single mom, three kids. I've been a mail carrier for 11 years. I was born in Georgia, raised in New York. I was raised a Democrat.

My first Tea Party event was July 4 of last year, in Brandermill. I just didn't like what the president was doing, all this money he is spending. I didn't like it when Bush did it. I went out and had a wonderful time. It wasn't racist. I didn't hear the N-word. Of course, it's majority white Americans. The majority of legal residents are still white residents. That's the country I live in and it doesn't matter to me.

My family, we don't talk much. They are all down with Obama because he is black. I voted for him. I thought there was going to be some change. I thought he was going to be an honest politician. Then I woke up and saw there wasn't going to be no change. The health-care thing really woke me up. I ran into this man, his name is Mike Lee, on Chesterfield cable access channel, and he woke me up on individualism and how great our country was and how great our founding fathers were. And he's a black man.

I'm sick of race. This is not the '60s; we're not like that anymore. It's them. It's not Republicans, it's not the Tea Party. When I came to the South — I was born in Georgia but I was raised in New York — I just saw all the Southern hospitality down here. I worked with more white people down here.

My friends don't always understand. A lot of them say “How can you be in that racist organization?” I've never seen anything racist about it. There are patriotic Americans at the meetings. No one should talk about the Tea Party unless they have gone to the meetings.

I voted for [Obama] because I though he was going to improve race relations. Thought he was going to provide a positive role model for blacks. Show them that they could succeed in this great nation. Instead he has coddled black people and told them they could live in poverty. He nominated Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. She said he could make a better decision than a white man. He accused that white officer of racism. He needs to quit making decisions based on color. I'm not going to vote for him again. 

The experience in the Tea Party has been wonderful. It's absurd about the NAACP. Republicans aren't any better. They're Rhinos. They're like the Democrats. They're more worried about getting re-elected than being concerned about individual rights and the Constitution. I like Ron Paul. Hope he runs again.

I am very happy. I don't have any black friends, but I have tons of conservative friends, and it doesn't matter to me what their skin color is. What matters to me is that we are of the same mindset. I am American first. Black just happens to be my skin color.

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