Why I’m Voting for Obama -- Young Blacks Back Barack
YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, , , Words: Donny Lumpkins//Video: Min Lee and Leon Breckenridge Posted: Mar 16, 2007
Editor's Note: While Barack Obama's popularity surges, he is being attacked by African American leaders like Al Sharpton for not representing the community. According to the young writer Obama has his vote inspite of the hate. Donny Lumpkins, 20, is a content producer at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.
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In the 2004 election, I was not able to vote. I was 17 and way more worried about the next episode of Friends rather than the next leader of the country. And anyway, it didn’t seem like much of a choice. It was either an old white man to be the next president ... or an old white man to be the next president. Both candidates were completely uninteresting to me as a young person, so I can understand why more teens chose to die rather than vote, although the shirts were pretty cool.
Next year, in 2008, there will be another election. I’ll be 20 this time around and I’m pretty sure I’ll vote. Not because it is my duty to vote but because the first black man with a real shot at the white house – Illinois senator Barack Obama – is running. The truth is, I don’t know much about his politics or how he will run the country (quite frankly I’m more worried about how the next episode of Heroes will play out). I do know that he has the same color skin as I do and, to me and other black people, that counts for something.
It is well known in the black community that we must support our own. This fact is evident in the way Tyler Perry (homeless man turned author/playwright/Madea) can make a low budget movie that will be number one in the box office for weeks because the black audience will make sure it does well – especially the black churchgoers. Perry writes good, wholesome stories for black audiences and I know – from growing up in a black family – that if we don’t support our stars and politicians, who will?
Obama seems to have the same wholesome message and in turn, he’s got the black church-going vote built in. He has also admitted to using drugs in the past, which gives him the stoner vote. Now, though, he’s a God-fearing man with a wife and kids that any one can relate to. He is what most black people want to believe is possible for their children. It’s a young black American dream that doesn’t involve slinging rock or a wicked jump shot.
Can he achieve the seemingly impossible? His supporters sure think so. At rallies, his supporters in the crowd are often predominately African American and they flock from around the country to see him. When he speaks, it’s almost as if he were preaching to a congregation rather than executing a speech on the campaign trail.
Early in March, Obama was preaching to a congregation in the Brown Chapel A.M.E Church in Selma, Alabama and he said he was a part of the “Joshua generation.” In the Bible, Moses freed the Israelites from Pharaoh, only to have them wander in the desert for 40 years and never to get to their destination. Joshua was the successor to Moses who took the people of Israel to Jericho, broke the walls down and rebuilt it as a home for the Israelites. So, could Obama be the Joshua for Black America, which has been wandering in the desert for a while now? It’s nice to think.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii to a white mother and an African father, does take some flack from some of his black critics for not being black enough. In their minds, he lacks a cretin edge that most charismatic black leaders have, such as the ferociousness of Malcolm X or the wisdom of Martin Luther King. A lot of the time in the black community, when a black figure is adopted by a white following, he is labeled not black enough or an Uncle Tom, i.e., Wayne Brady. That black star can then only retain his ‘street cred’ by somehow sticking it to the man like Dave Chappell.
My question is, how black does Obama have to be? What would make him more of a black man? What kind of street credit does a black man need to be considered a black president? Some black people regard President Clinton as the first black president for a lot of different reasons, partially because he cheated on his wife, lied about it and got away with it. What does that say about the perception of what a black man needs to be black?
VIDEO: (STREET INTERVIEWS) Barack -- Are You Black?
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Obama cannot win only with black votes. He will need other minority votes and white votes. Strangely, I don’t think getting these votes will be hard for him, he has kind of a ‘safe black’ vibe—he’s easily relatable to white voters. He definitely has a sort of a Bill Cosby feel to him. Like, not only would I vote for him, I would trust him to make me a cool, jiggly, colorful snack.
The other front-runner for the democrats is sinister Hilary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton, the play-brother of George Clinton and an honorary saxaphone man in Parliament-Funkadelic. Hilary scares me and always has. Ever since I was little she always reminded me of that teacher at school that you knew had issues but weren’t sure how deep rooted they were until she snapped in class and yelled at everyone until she got blue in the face. What I do like about Hillary is that she seems very Meryl Streep in the way she carries herself. She is very “I run this sh-t” about the way she speaks.
Both Barack and Hillary would be a big step for America but I’m not sure if America is ready to take that step. I think that scarier than one of them winning is one of them losing by a landslide because it will show just how racist or sexist America still is. It wasn’t but a couple years ago that black quarterbacks were forced to change positions in the pros because no one thought a black man could keep up with the game at quarterback. And women still get paid less than men, so how far along are we really?
In 2008, when voting time swings around I’m gonna put on my ‘Vote or Sit on the Couch and Watch Jeopardy’ t-shirt and I’m gonna to try to help make history. It’s a very exciting time for black people. And black males specifically because we don’t always get credit for the good we do like heart transplants, creating potato chips and maybe soon being the president of the United States.
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