Thursday, November 27, 2008

Decision 2008

Jessie Jackson Probably Didn’t Believe Obama Would Win
By Tiffany Sims

I remember asking my 61 year-old dad earlier this year if he was going to vote during the primary election. He told me “No, cause it won’t matter.” He didn’t think that Obama would win because he still has the mentality that Black people can’t get ahead in life in this world. I don’t know what changed his mind. Perhaps it was my disapproving of his answer. But he ended up voting on November 4th.

Perhaps my dad’s reasons for his comment earlier this year was a result of his parents not educating him about politics. As a result of that, I grew up not knowing much about politics. Besides the infamous Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, I wasn’t interested in politics. I was interested in movies and music.

But during my senior year of high school in 2000, I remember my history teacher, Mr. Snow, passed out a voter’s registration application and stressed the importance and privilege of now being old enough to vote. I remember not really “getting it” and not really caring about it that much to ask one of my peers, or Mr. Snow to help me understand more about it. Not hearing either of my parents talk about politics and not remembering them taking me with them to vote when I was younger affected me so that I didn’t find it relevant.

But then, I met my boyfriend during the summer of 2004 while following my passions for music and movies. He was an actor and singer-songwriter who happened to have the day job as a lawyer. During that fall, when the upcoming election was upon us, he asked if I was going to vote and I remember saying, “What for? It’s not like my vote really is going to matter?”

He seemed disappointed that I didn’t care about voting. But he asked me about voting again a day or two before the election, and feeling a bit pressured, I reluctantly said I would vote, but I still didn’t see the point. Being that I didn’t really care when I voted, I believe I voted for Gore, and felt justified that my vote didn’t count since Bush was re-elected.

But in the four years since the last election, and thanks to my boyfriend’s interest in politics, I’ve become more aware of how important it is to vote. The decline of our economy and the seemingly senseless, drawn out war in Iraq has led me to believe that change was needed, and fast.

I first heard about Barack Obama when my boyfriend brought him up around the 2004 election. I remember him mentioning that he thought Obama spoke well. I didn’t really think much about Obama, and just figured he was another black person in politics like Colin Powell, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. But once he announced his candidacy and began campaigning in early 2007, I began to notice him more.

By the time it came to vote during the primaries this past February, I had the tough decision of deciding between Barack and Hilary Clinton. Both of their policies appeared so similar and I was torn between choosing someone of the same race as me and someone of the same sex. I believe I chose Barack ultimately because I felt like I related to him and what he said in his speeches. I felt more connected to him as a person than to Hilary Clinton because I felt she didn’t reach young women enough.

After the two presidential candidates, Obama and McCain were confirmed, it became clear that I would vote for Obama. I was very confident in my opinion and had no doubt that he would win, provided that people vote. As Election Day drew closer, I still had my dad’s quote of, “my vote won’t matter”, running through my head. I had a fear that Blacks and Hispanics wouldn’t vote for fear that their vote wouldn’t matter.

Also seeing Jessie Jackson’s slip up on Fox News stating, “See, Barack's been, ahh, talking down to black people on this faith-based... I want to cut his nuts off...” that led me to believe that some black people may not vote for Barack because he’s half-white and they’re using that as an excuse not to vote. But thankfully, that wasn’t the case and Obama has made history. And Jackson was teary-eyed at Obama’s acceptance speech at Chicago’s Grant Park

Being that Obama is half Kenyan and half Irish/German, he sees the world similar to how I see it, and have since I was younger. America is the land of opportunity and brings together people from every race, sex, sexual preference and political choice. And even though at times things may seem black and white, as long as people instill the belief in themselves and those around them that anything is possible, no matter what color, we as a people can do anything.

Before Obama became president-elect, every other race that was not Caucasian, probably felt that becoming President of the U.S. was not in their reach. But now that Obama will become President, maybe this will begin the change the thought process to you can do anything.

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