<\body> Stories in America: Reaching Out to the African American Community

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Reaching Out to the African American Community

Whenever I approached a young African American at the Juneteenth festival in San Francisco, I always heard the same thing: "I don't vote because politicians don't care about our communities. They have no idea what goes on here and they don't care." It was almost impossible to get an interview with a young person in their 20s.

Dijaida, a 34-year old mason, says young people hesitate to share their opinions because they don't trust outsiders. Dijaida never misses an election.

What issues are important to you?

The presidency, the governor, stuff that goes on in the city. I'm interested in a lot of things. Education is very important.

Do you affiliate with a political party?

I'm a Democrat.

What message would you send to politicians? What can they do to reach out to communities that have low voter turnout?

They need to come to the communities, especially this community. They always go to the high rise hotels. They need to do more outreach here and talk to the people.

Do you feel like the progressive community does enough to reach out to your neighborhood and African American neighborhoods in general?

No, the progressive community is mainly white. Minorities feel like no one cares, so they don't vote. They don't think it's important. You keep pushing them to vote and come out and talk to them and they'll begin to trust you. The problem is, they don't trust many people. Politicians need to come to this community. The people who live here believe it's us against them and if no one comes out to educate them, they'll always feel that way.

Where do you get your news?

I read the newspaper everyday and watch TV news.

Do you get any of your news from the Internet?


Do you ever visit political websites?


Valerie, 44, is a teacher's aide. She hasn't voted since 1996.

Do you affiliate with a political party?

I'm a Democrat, but I don't see the results of what the politicians are doing.

Last time I voted was when Clinton was in. I liked him a lot. I loved Kerry, too. Where is he? What happened?

Did you vote in this last election?

No, I didn't see anything that was interesting.

What issues are you interested in?

Childcare, jobs for the youth and crime. There's so much crime on the street. What are they doing about this? Kids are being shot at community centers. I'm fed up. We need more police. There are too many drive bys.

Where do you get your news?

From the newspaper and the community. Everybody talks in the community.

Do you use the Internet?

I just got an email address.

What message would you send to the Democrats?

Get rid of the crime, so my child can play on the sidewalk. Do something about healthcare. Arnold took my medicare. The food programs are also being cut. There are no jobs here. It's not right.

Women need to be empowered because we're the ones raising our kids. The men aren't. They're in jail and drunk half the time. I don't have anything against them, but it's hard to find a real man around here.

I've met a few women here who voted for Bush because they're against abortion and gay marriage.

I'm definitely against abortion and gay marriage, but that's between you and the lord. Please practice safe sex.

So you don't think they should be political issues?



At 6/29/2006 8:00 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

Darfur also....



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