Youth Weigh In On Primary Battle

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Silicon Valley DeBug, and The kNOw, Commentaries, Various Authors

Editor’s Note: We asked young people all across the Bay Area and the Central Valley if they were voting, what issues they think are the most crucial and who they would vote for. YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia and The kNOw are all youth media projects of Pacific News Service. Street Soldiers Radio is a weekly radio program heard by more than 300,000 listeners.

Why I Don’t Vote
Jazmyne Young, 19, Berkeley, CA

I’m a young, Black woman from Berkeley and I have locs – commonly referred to as “dreadlocs”, although I do not find my hair to be dreadful. So, people would assume I’m a hippie, I listen to India Arie, believe fervently in affirmative action, and I’m a member of the Green Party.

The truth is: I love India Arie, although her acoustic songs aren’t that appealing, I think people of color do need more representation in institutions of higher learning, and, contrary to popular belief, I am politically apathetic.

This is because in all my real studies about history, I have found one constant truth: We have been lied to. More than just lied to, but that there is an elite group of what I assume to be mostly unidentified White men that has an interest in keeping the masses of people ignorant and complacent to the reality of the world that we live in. In such a corrupt and immoral system, I find it hard to believe in the promises of a democratic society, put most eloquently in a Talib Kweli song when he says: “They call me the political rapper/ even after I tell ‘em/ I don’t f–k with politics/ I don’t even follow it/ I’m on some KRS, Ice Cube, Chris Wallace s–t/ Main Source, De La Soul, bumpin 2Pacalypse.” That’s pretty much my mantra.

As simple and overstated as it is, I just don’t believe that my vote counts.

In the midst of the lies, the deceit, and the efforts of the unidentified elite, how will voting for the president of the United States of America make my family, friends, and community, better? How will this help young women love themselves? How will it help young Black men turn to books and not the block to make it out of the hood? How will it rectify 400 years of injustice?

The problem is that although I have a clear stance on why I do not vote, I still feel like I should vote. There’s always the whole “Your ancestors died so that you could vote!” guilt trip that older Black people run, which is true, but it still doesn’t inspire me to turn to CNN and watch the Democratic debates. I’m still searching for the incentive, the purpose, and the proof that politics is relevant to me. Ahh yes, the right answer to the question “How is this relevant to me?” Which, if answered could galvanize me and others of a similar mind to not only vote, but to be politically savvy.

When people ask: “Who are you voting for, Barack or Hillary?” I smile and politely say “Probably Barack.” Which would be true, if I planned on voting. I would vote for Barack not only because he is Black (it doesn’t hurt though), nor because he has a Black wife as well (double positive!), but because he is a sincere candidate who really believes in the potential of the American people. I support his efforts, and for the sake of voting optimists everywhere, I hope he wins.

Yesterday We Marched, Today We Vote?
Isabel Gonzalez, 21, San Jose, CA

It seems like everywhere you look, someone is talking about the who the next president will be. Being from a family of immigrants, where some of my family members are unable to vote, these elections are not the main political topic within our household. What is discussed is the immigrant rights movement and where it’s heading. At home, only my sister, my mom and I can vote, and we are all at odds as to whom we are going to vote for.

They last time my family discussed politics this much was during the historic immigrants rights marches. We all marched on May 1st 2006, and I marched because I felt that it was time for us to send a message to those in power, that all people who are living in the United Sates and who contribute to this country deserve all the rights and privileges that US-born citizens have. I know that I have a duty to vote for the most adequate person in regards to immigration rights, but at the moment the only thing I know of the candidates are their gender and race. I feel that the candidates purposefully stay away from this topic because it benefits people who are unable to vote, and those with voting power don’t want immigrants to have rights. Although we are heading into a historic moment in time, many of those who marched are not publicly involved in the process. No matter the outcome of the elections, the movement for immigrant rights must go on, and will be up to us to determine.

And whether Barack, Hilary, or whoever are paying attention or not, our planning for immigrants rights goes on. I happened to listen to a conversation some people from Voluntaries Para la Communidad, an organization made up of immigrants who were instrumental in the mass marches, and they were discussing the next move that people should make. Even though our state is about to be taken over by Super Tuesday, the elections was not the main focus of their conversation. It was as if the elections didn’t exist.

During the marches I heard lots of people saying that “Today we march, tomorrow we vote!” And now those who can, are going to vote. But even if we vote, who says we are going to vote for the same person? Just like other groups of people, the immigrant population have different views, and live in different situations that effect who they want to vote for. The only common thread is that they are immigrants and that they feel that all immigrants receive equal rights.

The one thing for sure the immigrant rights movement can count on, is itself. We know that by sticking together is how we are going to be heard, and that is the only way to have our elected officials do what we ask. Whoever the next president is going to be must be aware of the power of the immigrant community because we are not going to go away and be quiet like in the past, we have learned that we can make a difference and that our voices will be heard even if we can not all vote.

Fresno Youth Discuss the Primaries

A President Has to Tell the Truth
Anna, 16

Qualities that make a good president are honesty and faithfulness. To be a president in my opinion is like if you were in a relationship. There has to be honesty and faithfulness. A president has to tell the truth to the voters, to us. When they say they are going to change this and that, they should keep the promise. They should make promises they can keep. So, if they win they will win fair and not with lies. To me, it takes a good, honest, trustworthy and faithful person to become president.

Just a Popularity Contest
Gracie, 15

The presidential race is just a popularity contest. Out of the many people I’ve talked to who are Democrats, they are playing the favorite card. Men/women who are African American are voting for Obama – not for the message he is sending out, but just due to the fact that he is Black. On the opposing side, women are voting for Hillary Clinton just due to the fact that she is a woman. Now if every Democrat played this card, I might as well have run for president too, since I’m Mexican and a woman. I bet many Mexicans or women would vote for me just because I have these two qualities. I honestly don’t have a strong feeling about the presidential race. All I know is people need to open up their minds to the possibility of change. Well, at least we can’t go downhill from the president we have already have.

Permanent Improvements Needed
Jesse, 16

The presidential candidates in the election are very interesting because the Democratic party has some great candidates. Obama and Clinton are constantly breathing down one another’s backs while the Republicans are struggling to keep up. I believe that the two Democratic candidates have what it takes to be the president of the U.S., but they won’t be happy until one wins and one loses. People constantly talk about how Obama would be the first Black president. MLK stated in his “I have a dream” speech that he hopes one day man won’t be judged by color of his skin, but by the content of his character. The same with Clinton. Don’t look at her being the first woman president, but look at the principles and what she has to bring to the table. The nation is going through some temporary inconveniences and it’s up to them to tell us people what permanent improvements they are going to bring to the table.

No Excuse for Not Voting
LaKenya, 16

Well, the presidential race is very confusing to the American people today. Some want a Black president – mainly African Americans – and others want a female president. But the main argument is with the Blacks. I can almost guarantee if you were to ask a Black person who can vote who they would vote for, they would more than likely say Obama. Why? Because there hasn’t been a Black man running to be president with such a good chance. In the past, when Blacks were counted as 3/5 a person, or when Blacks could vote as a whole, some choose not to vote because they feel that whoever wins isn’t going to benefit their race. But now that there is a Black man running, they feel there just might be a change in our history.

Next President Will be Watched
Laqusha, 19

I’m kind of confused about the presidential race. This whole race is history in the making. I support both Clinton and Obama, and they are both striving for change in America, and change is what we need. All I can think about is our nation falling. I mean, it has happened to all the great countries. The new president will either make or break America. I’m sitting back watching and observing, sorting out pros and cons. It’s obvious that there will be a huge difference in America if either one wins. She’s a woman and he is Black. If either one wins, people are going to watch them like hawks. I think if she makes one mistake or she does something that the men of this nation don’t agree with, they might have an “I-told-you-so” attitude. That attitude will be the same for Obama being a “black man.”

This article was previously posted on the New America Media website here.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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