An Open Letter to America


Hi y’all,

Hopefully you all tuned in to last night’s debate, regardless of your political preference or level of involvement. It’s available on YouTube here if you’d like to watch it and haven’t!

And now, down to business. As some of you know, I’m involved in blogging for PBS’ Race 2012: A Conversation About Race & Politics in America and am supposed to write about how race affects politics, how it affects the way we vote, and how it will affect this election.

I have no idea how to do that.

I was worried when Monica Medina sent me an email asking if I’d join this group of bloggers, because…I’m white. I’m 19. I’m from a relatively normal, middle class family. I am, in the scheme of things, one of the more average people you know. But I do have a love for my right to vote. I don’t always love what America stands for, and I don’t always love how we act on the global level, but I am grateful for my right to vote because I know that millions of people would risk their lives to get the chance to vote, and some have. So with that in mind, I couldn’t exactly say no…

And now here we are, one month away from Election Day, over 200 years after our country began, and race (and gender) is still an issue. We just recently elected a black man as president, but every day since then have questioned his birthplace. During the primaries in 2008, people were worried Hilary Clinton was too hormonal to lead the country. We’re constantly looking for something that says, “You’re not good enough, you’re not stable enough, you’re not ready, you’re not American, you’re not you’re not you’re not.”

Because we’re uncomfortable with change. We went for so long with old, white guys running our country that we get thrown off by the color of Barack Obama’s skin. We look for excuses, reasons why someone isn’t right for president. In Obama’s case, he was…too intelligent. Elite. Because apparently if you’re not wrastlin’ hogs or fixing toilets, you don’t understand the fundamentals of American society. But I would argue that subconsciously, we just don’t know what to do with ourselves when something new comes along. I mean, tell me JFK wasn’t elite.

I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t look at our candidates with a critical eye, because we must become as informed about the candidates as possible, lest we vote like idiots. But we probably should focus on their politics, not their race, religion, etc. Honestly, though Obama isn’t Muslim and I don’t entirely know why that’s still a debate, I wouldn’t have a problem if he was. There are plenty of very peaceful Muslims out there who would run our country just as well as anyone else. And there are plenty of Christian idiots who wouldn’t.

This post has gotten a little off topic. I guess it’s just because I can’t believe that this is still an issue. I can’t believe that we still see someone simply as black or white, and not just as human. I was raised by parents who taught me that everyone was equal. That your race meant very little in the scheme of things. That your race might define your culture, and that’s great, but it would never define your abilities or character. So I don’t look at that anymore. I look at candidates’ ideas, beliefs, and intent much, much more than I look at the color of their skin.

Of course, it was a huge achievement that Obama was the first African American to get elected President. I celebrated along with everyone else, because that kind of change is groundbreaking. But now, we should be able to move on. Elect Asians, women, gays. I don’t care. I just want someone to run my country and have some dignity while they do it.

So now that I’ve run around in circles, I guess all I have to say is this: get over it, America. Get over your prejudices, your preconceived notions, your stereotypes. Get over it and vote. And give each other a hug, while you’re at it.

Cappy

I’ll be blogging a few more times about how race in America affects voting, and how my race affects my choices as a voter. I think I’ve got something to say. So stay tuned, and VOTE!
The documentary will be airing October 16 on PBS. For more information, like Race 2012 on Facebook or follow @PBSRace2012 on Twitter. Yay for public television! Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and we should continue to support it, even though Mitt Romney doesn’t. 

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You’re American, So Vote!


In November, I will cast my first vote for the president of the United States, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t totally stoked. Because I am so incredibly excited and feel so, so glad that my voice counts in this country, even if it’s just a little voice.

I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. I’ve already chosen (Obama) the candidate (Obama) who I think will do the best for this country (Obama), but the whole point of being American is that we can vote for whoever we want. You could write in your father’s name if you really believed he’d be the best leader. Granted, that might not be the most productive choice, but if you really wanted to, you could. Or you could vote for Romney, who certainly has his strengths. But the most important thing this fall is that you get out and vote.

If you’re from Washington State like me, you can do what I did last summer and register by clicking here and mailing in the form, or you can go to any driver licensing office and register there. If not, your state probably has a similar registration system, and Google is super smart, so it can help you.
If you have time and want to help others register, you can go to Rock the Vote and sign up. Yay!

I know politics can get exhausting. I listen to the news every morning and sometimes it just feels like it’s all too much, and I want to shut it out. But it’s there, and it’s our world, and there’s only so long you can ignore the world before it busts down your door. So start paying attention to current events; become an informed citizen and find out what you believe. Figure out what you need in a leader. The only thing worse than a non-voter is an uninformed voter.

Take advantage of your American right to vote. A lot of people out there would love to have what we have, would love to be able to elect their leader. So get out there and get it done!

On a final note, there’s a lot of debate over which party is “more American” than which, which is just an absurd topic of discussion in the first place. We’re all American, and we don’t have to wrap ourselves in a flag to prove it. America is beautiful because you can be as American as you want, and you don’t have to be any more American than that. But the number one way to be American is to vote. That’s what’s truly patriotic.

I definitely pretended you’re all American to make this post easier. If you’re not, you likely still have the right to vote, so do it, wherever you are!

Monica Medina has invited me and a few other bloggers to participate in PBS’s  ‘Race 2012.’  Starting in October, I’ll be blogging a few times about how race in America affects voting, and how my race affects my choices as a voter. As a middle-class white female, I first thought I didn’t have much to contribute to the discussion. But, prompted by some great questions from Monica, I think I’ve got something to say. So stay tuned, and VOTE!
The documentary will be airing October 16 on PBS. For more information, like Race 2012 on Facebook or follow @PBSRace2012 on Twitter. Yay for public television!