Feb 20, 2008 - 12:44 AM
Youth Outlook and Wiretap are kicking off the first ever Youth Media Blog-A-Thon. This month’s topic is the 2008 presidential election. Oh Dang! editor-in-chief Zoneil Maharaj speaks on race, and not so eloquently at that.
This year is the first year I voted. I made it a point to vote during the presidential primaries because, for the first time ever, someone who isn’t an old white guy has the potential to become president. It was a tough choice. Clinton and Obama are both strong candidates and there are things I like and dislike about both. Sure, Clinton’s got the White House experience that Obama lacks, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Obama’s promise of change for a new American era is hopeful, but I’m skeptical whether it’s all just lip service.
Torn and uncertain whom to vote for, I should have walked away. But I needed to play my part in the election, so I went with Obama. The deciding factor, simply and truthfully, his race.
When my friend, a Filipino American from the supposedly liberal San Francisco, found out that I voted for Obama, he laughed and later sent me a MySpace comment that read: “I knew you were a nigger lover.” I'd like to think he was joking, but in previous conversations he expressed that he wouldn’t want to see a black man as president of our country.
Race vs. Gender is the name of the game in this presidential race. I hope most people looked beyond race and gender and voted solely on candidates' values, but we all know that didn't happen. Whether we like to admit it or not, we take our personal biases and experiences to the polls with us.
I’m neither black nor white. But during discussions about the presidential race, I couldn’t help but turn to race as an argument. I’m told this is ignorant, especially for someone with a B.A. in journalism who should know better. But is it really that ignorant? Don’t we all favor those we can relate to?
The way I look at it, as a lower middle-class immigrant who grew up in America and withstood racism and discrimination, I’ll have more in common with Obama than Clinton or McCain. Neither Clinton nor McCain can know what it’s like to be a minority in America. Obama does. I remain hopeful that his life experiences will help shape his policies with more empathy than other candidates. And I think many first time voters and those previously apathetic toward politics, will use similar logic. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.
This is the first time I’ve seen folks so involved and attentive to the presidential election. It’s like Super Bowl Sunday everyday till November with folks placing bets on who will take the trophy to the Oval Office. Four years ago, as an apathetic 20-year-old, all you’d get from me was a “Fuck Bush. Fuck politics. My vote don’t mean shit anyway. Now pass me the Playstation controller.”
This year, however, there’s a candidate it seems I can relate to, though much of that relation is assumed through race. If that makes me ignorant or racist, so be it.
Oh Dang! Blog-A-Thon entries: