<\body> Stories in America: Conversations with Black Voters (And Non-Voters)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Conversations with Black Voters (And Non-Voters)

Many of you found this blog after learning about my six-month road trip through the so-called "red states," where I interviewed people about why they vote the way they do. The goal of the trip was to steer clear of politicians and talking heads and focus on talking to real people about a variety of issues. I still feel the media, both traditional and alternative, ignore the voices of average people. Many journalists and authors have a tendency to write long diatribes about the Bush administration and its horrible policies, but they rarely quote real people. On March 20, 2006, Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Evan Thomas wrote a piece called "The GOP's Abortion Anxiety," but they didn't include comments from pro-choice Republican voters who are actually leaving the party. Finding them isn't that difficult.

From now until the November election, I will feature interviews with a variety of people about a wide range of issues. Because I'm working on my book about my "red state" experience, I can't travel too far from the Bay Area, but I will make a point of interviewing a diverse group of people. I also plan to podcast the interviews. Conducting these interviews isn't always easy, especially when I encounter someone who is pro-war, anti-choice, anti-gay, etc...but I believe they will help the left figure out where to focus their efforts and how to shape their message.

Last weekend, I interviewed a number of people at Juneteenth, the largest gathering of African-Americans in northern California:
San Francisco Juneteenth has taken on even more importance because the traditional black neighborhoods in the Western Addition and Bayview/Hunters Point have lost population due to the increased ability of blacks to live throughout the region due to rising incomes, redevelopment which displaced some residents and businesses and an influx of new residents into those communities. San Francisco Juneteenth is the one constant which dates back to the days when the Western Addition covered 120 consecutive blocks of 100 percent African-American households.
My first interview is with Ericka, a 32-year-old San Francisco resident who says she always votes. Democrats should pay close attention to her last comment about poverty.

What issues are important to you?

Issues concerning education and abortion. African American voting rights. Family and marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

So you're against gay marriage?

Yes. It's my biblical beliefs and it tears down the basis of the family.

Do you vote for Democrats or Republicans?

I was a Democrat. Now I don't agree with a lot of what they support. I'm still registered as a Democrat, but I'm voting more with the Republican Party.


Because the value system is totally different with Democrats. They're more liberal. They're for abortion, which obviously is the murder of a baby. And they support gay marriage which is breaking down families. Since my values have changed, my voting habits have changed.

Did you vote for Bush in 2004?

Yes I did.

Do you think abortion and gay marriage should be political issues?

Definitely. I don't appreciate the fact that they're trying to teach kids that homosexuality is ok. It has to become political because how else can we stand against it?

You mentioned education earlier. What about issues like education and healthcare? Do you have health insurance?


What do you do for a living?

I'm an entrepreneur. I sell children's clothing.

The Republicans are often criticized for using gay marriage and abortion to get you to vote for them. Meantime, they refuse to raise minimum wage or work to make healthcare more affordable and accessible.

I don't vote according to party. I vote according to each individual issue. I don't care if they don't give me healthcare. I'll never support abortion. I have two children and in the past, I've had an abortion and I've asked for forgiveness for that. I don't think that should be ok for a 17-year-old.

Do you think the government should have made that choice for you?


Where does it stop in terms of the government telling you what you can and cannot do with your body?

It's not about the government telling you what to do. We vote. This is a democratic society. We vote for these measures.

Once the baby is born, should the government stay involved? If you're going to ban abortion, we're going to have a lot more unwanted children in this country. Who's going to take care of those kids? Who's going to pay for their healthcare and education?

The bible says there will always be poor people.

So gay marriage and abortion are your top issues and Republican policies on the economy and the poor don't matter?

I've lived in this community all my life under Democrats and Republicans. My neighbors have been living in poverty for years and nothing ever changes.


At 6/26/2006 12:30 PM, Anonymous Dances With Books said...

And as much as I want to respect others' opinions, it's people like that which keep voting for the incompetent leaders ruining the nation because they appeal to "their values." So she does not care about getting health care or possibly a better education for her own children because she is pretty much buying the "story" of values the Republicans sell. No wonder this country is getting worse by the minute. How long before people wake up?

At 6/26/2006 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What most people don't realize is that the "political system" is all an illusion. If you doubt that for a minute, look at how fast Kerry admitted "defeat" even before the sham of an election was over. He was supposed to lose.

The very issues that the young woman above was concerned with are of no concern to our "leaders" -- just look at the values of these same leaders who are preaching family values (massive corruption, infidelity, numerous divorces). And look at the country/state budgets they approve and how they directly and indirectly undermine families.

My theory is: look at the outcome, and you know what the agenda is. Here are some outcomes and the ways they are being accomplished, mostly with our cooperation:
- Divide and weaken our ability to unite in protest (who's the group to hate or marginalize this month? Gays? Young black males? Mexicans? Doctors who perform abortions?)
- Get us to willingly give up our rights and freedoms (by scaring us with threats [of terrorist attacks while reducing the funds to protect ports/shorlines] and fabricated pandemic predictions [check out the truth behind SARS and the Bird Flu Virus]
- Distract us from what is really going on by keeping our health compromised (have you really looked into what's in our food and water - not to mention the air we breathe? And have you looked at the contents [ie. Mercury, MSG] of the vaccinations our kids are given, are required for the military, and we may be scared/forced into accepting?)

Wake up is right. And please open your minds and ears; you can start by ceasing to marginalize folks who are doing their homework (a small start would be to stop with the names and labels, like "conspiracy nut", etc.)

Here's a starter link to "hear" something other than the "partyline"

A last comment: This is not just a world of people, places, things and ideas. Everything has energy. Fear and hatred are very low vibration emotions, which compromise our health and emotional well-being. Practice more purposeful kindness, compassion and love...very high vibration; very healing.

At 6/26/2006 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how you can handle these interviews, but I thank you for them.

At 6/26/2006 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there goes that damn Bible again, stepping on people's ability to critically think.

At 6/28/2006 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

while these comments may be irritating to some, including myself, it is very easy to understand. as our society allows more freedom to pursue one's individual happiness, those same individual start to see the world through their eyes and belief system only.

healthcare is not much of a concern to a short sighted, young healthy female who feels nothing can stop her; that'll change when she reaches 65 or her first big health scare. her personal success has demonstrated to her that you don't need government to lend a helping hand to succeed, although it probably helped her far more than she is willing to acknowledge, which would damage her personal psyche to admit. and those who lack higher education or the willingness to pursue it look to jesus to equalize their social standing on the playing field - i.e. i don't need a fancy stanford physics degree to understand a car crash because it was simply gods will, both the crash and who survives.

she chooses to focus on issues that scare her. her church - preying on her personal racism, sexism, hombophobia, etc - has done a good job implanting which fears are important.

at this point in time, republicans occupy the lesser of two evils in many minds, because most free spirited americans can't buy into the socialist uber-solve-everything programs of democrats.

many have lost faith in politicians accomplishing anything that was traditional political like running government institutions properly - hell, you have more luck 'praying' a pothole gets filled before asking your local transportation dept. so now they turn to issues that seem to get immediate attention and feel good results. even the Dems do this; didn't Berkley just vote to impeach the president?

At 6/29/2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

I like her. And what a smile!

At 6/29/2006 10:23 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

"...didn't Berkley just vote to impeach the president?"

Great idea! While we’re at it, let’s hold a gay marriage vote in Provo.

At 4/04/2007 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homophobia is the reason why you have married men sleeping with other men behind their wives' backs.


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