TODAY in the African American Perspective at UMX feature I present you with an amigo I often chill with in the Twitterverse, and who is a teacher and a blogger and well, here comes his bio so you can read for yourself. Jose asked me to alter the grafik I designed for this feature, which for his page serves as a good reminder to all that “Latino” and “African American” are not mutually exclusive categories! Gracias to Jose for adding to the mix.
Jose Vilson: Educator, blogger, writer, poet, NYCer, Black / Latino, political polemicist, and everything in between. Love me. hate me. Read me.
The Forever After
A week ago, I highlighted the many reasons I voted for Obama. In this prose, I struggled with the reasons why I would or wouldn’t vote. The mere fact that my vote came down to a simple and rather selfless act speaks to the power of Obama: his and our combined abilities to move away from egocentric ideology to a more progressive lean lead me to the voting booth. Even the comfort people have had discussing this latest election stands in stark contrast to the hush of politics over the last decade and change (as if our politics and religious / spiritual beliefs have little to do with our disposition). And in spite of my better judgement, racial politics has changed now. And for better.
This latest vote on behalf of President-Elect Barack Obama is as much a rejoinder and an affront to the current state of this country and an endowment for and endorsement of our future.
My biggest reason for voting came in the form of 30 or so students in a classroom in Washington Heights of New York City. All of them are considered English language learners, all of Latin@ descent, and all from immigrant populations. Their engagement in this political race has surprised and inspired me. Their worst and best ideas about politics comes to the fore, and while some of the ideas are certainly prejudice (“White people vote for McCain” won’t stand the test of time), I also see a great opportunity to help develop better-informed citizens and participants in a still-exclusive fraternity.
While not every Latin@ and Black youth that fits the aforementioned demographic has the same exact view about politics, these were some of the political thoughts and trends I noticed in my classroom before Election Day:
1. Fear of a Black president … getting shot, a fear we’ve had for quite a while now.
2. Anger towards John McCain and …
3. Their hypothesis that JohnMcCain wanted Barack Obama killed
4. Absence of conversation about George W. Bush, amazing since they spent all of last year hating him
5. Actually liking the Democratic candidate rather than just disliking the Republican candidate (::ahem2004ahem::)
In the larger scheme of things, while these views are rather skewed, they give those of us with more knowledge an avenue to bridge the gap between generations, where so often, we found ourselves perplexed by the younger generation’s choices of music, fashion, and heroes. They’re partaking in the conversation more than ever, and in many ways have fallen in line with what our generations believe as well. Nickelodeon, one of the most popular stations for young kids and teens alike, recently held “Nick Picks the President,” an online poll to determine who their audience would choose for President. Barack wins. That coupled with a recent graphic showing what would happen if the 18-29 year old demographic were the only ones voting,we see a new wave of a liberal agenda come to the fore after the last 8 treacherous years of bad policy for the next few decades at least.
And while Barack spoke to the elder generations through the regular rally-fundraiser-policy speeches method, the groundswell really came from his use of social media, a space the kids in my classroom are all too fond of.
Barack Obama isn’t just a man in isolation or the man who’ll lead this country for the next four – eight years, but also a mass movement for that future, a bright one. Any little boy or girl doesn’t have to fear whether he can’t make it to the White House because he might get shot down, whether their vote will count, whether there are people actually looking out for them and their interests. Barack’s overtly galvanized the country in his favor, but has built a formidable youth movement that should keep this generation’s voice heard, but its soul intact.
Yet, Barack Obama encourages us to self-empowerment and building our own communities, for he really is only one man. He was neither born in a manger nor born on Krypton. Maybe.
Now, the only question is: what’s your role in this movement? The kids have responded. Your move.
jose, who stands in solidarity with all his people …