Who Represents Me?

black leadersThe 2004 presidential campaign is off and running and the candidates say their goals are to articulate the issues that most concern the voters. For Youth Radio’s Nzinga Moore that translates to mean "the issues that most concern middle aged people and older." Nzinga is 21, and wonders why her vote doesn't seem to be important enough to be courted.

Who represents me? I’m 21, black, a college graduate, and a rock musician. And I’m losing faith in politics. And there’s nothing to suggest that politicians are interested in winning that faith back.

In the days of Jesse Jackson’s presidential run, I was only seven. But I remember people saying how important it was, because it was the first time in the history of the United States that a black man ran for president.

Now, the big blue button that says Jesse for President sits in a junk drawer in my house, and I’ve tucked away my enthusiasm for politics with it. My first vote was in 2000...the same time we had the biggest election scandal of our history.

This was the first time I felt wronged by the American system. For me, growing up so many years after the Civil Rights Movement, I rarely understood the fuss my dad made with his friends, sitting in the living room watching TV, and screaming at the politicians. Now I know why. I can relate to feeling like politics is a losing battle for people like me.

For example, I’m used to hearing how politicians are dropping in on the Bible Belt states, tiny Northeastern towns, and even saying hi to Mayor Willie Brown in San Francisco. But no one comes to my town, Oakland, to talk about issues that are important to the community here.

In Oakland, the homicide rate is skyrocketing, and things are only getting worse at the poorest schools as funding evaporates. Luckily for me, I made it through college, but the scary thing is, I know no one on my block will have the same luck, or be so inspired.

I feel like there’s no real focus on improving education here. Maybe it’s a way to keep people from my neighborhood uninformed and un-empowered, which means no one knows how to question the politicians who distribute resources.

But I am questioning the entire process of electoral politics. I’m barely paying attention to the upcoming election, because I think it’s a joke.

But even if I were going to vote, there’s no candidate who really excites me and makes me hopeful. Looking at the top black political leaders doesn’t inspire. They’re doing their own thing. I’m so not into a reverend figure as a savior…that’s a stereotypical black role that’s been passed on…from Martin Luther King, to Jesse, to Al Sharpton. I don’t want to see the Oval Office turn into the church house. And neither do any of my friends.

And then there are people like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, and even FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who represent money and power…things I don’t have much of at this point.

I know that I am extremely different in a lot of ways. And I’m just one small demographic. But I think if there’s someone who can show me that they’re really, I mean really, here for people like me, then you might get my vote.

And if there are any presidential candidates willing to take the challenge, I’d like to invite you to sit down and discuss politics with me. And since I love music so much, maybe we’ll cap off the discussion with a record…lets say the Dixie Chicks? Just kidding…

Nzinga Moore is an Associate Producer with Youth Radio.
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