Thursday, March 13, 2008

The (insert minority) vote

It’s wrong to assume that just because I’m black that I’d cast my presidential vote for Barack Obama, or just because I’m a woman I’m more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. Or that because I fall into both minority categories, that I'm a Democrat.

However, that’s what it seems like the media is focusing on right now, especially with primary and caucus results coming in. And I guess that’s fine, considering the historic nature of the Democratic nomination.

BUT there’s one thing us media folks do all the time (in every election, not just presidential races) that literally makes my skin crawl: we overanalyze and make a hyperbole of the “black vote,” or “Hispanic voters” or “women voters.” Another one I’ve seen: “better-educated black voters.”

I've witnessed talk of reporters being instructed to get elections' race breakdowns and find someone to analyze them. I’ve even heard stories being called “black-voter turnout stories.”

During the Shreveport mayoral election how blacks voted seemed to be a very hot topic for folks inside and (especially) outside of the newsroom.

Last I checked there were more white men voting in all types of elections all over the country than any other minority group. And out of the relatively small population of blacks and Hispanics in the country there are a small number of people in those races who actually exercise their right to vote.

I’m not saying that race and gender in votes should be ignored. They shouldn’t. And sometimes it is very interesting to focus on. But I am saying that in the grand scheme of things, those minority groupings— especially black voters— aren’t really the determining factor in deciding elections. The real decision is made by the hordes of majority voters.

That said, the next time I see a story about “black-voter turnout,” I hope to see one about “white-voter turnout” too.

19 comments:

Stephanie Netherton said...

For the most part, I feel elections are popularity contests. Very few people are informed on a particular candidate's views, and elections drag out for so long that it's difficult to stay informed.

I talked to a high school girl this week who said the country wasn't ready for a woman president because she wouldn't get any respect. I'm sure that opinion is a direct influence of her household, but she never mentioned anything other than race or gender in her debate. She couldn't tell me where any of the candidates stood on the war, health care, immigration, etc.

Sure, we're witnessing history. And race and gender play a major part in it. But, my fear is we're voting to make history. We're voting because "I'm a female and Hillary is a female." or "I'm black and Obama is black." Are we paying attention to what the candidates say or just how they look?

Anonymous said...

what ever gets people out to vote is what matters..

analyze this any way that one choose, the matter is that people get out to vote..

unless one can read the mind of others, all this talk about why, is nothing but CONJECTURE based on the slant one choose to try and push..

one thing is for certain, people want BUSH, out..!!!!!!!!!

for all anyone knows the voter turn out could be purely realated to the fact people are so despaired at Bush and his mess of of the economy and the nation, they could be voting for Candidates who did not support the war, and does not agree with the war.

this is so stupid... no matter what a Black person does or accomplish, whites always try to come and claim it's a fluke of some sort, or that the reason are anything other than being someone who is supporting something that people identify with..

At no time do people want to stop for one minute and acknowledge that the man ran his campaign just like everyone else had a chance to structure and run theirs..
first they want to down him because he is a good public speaker, but if he had come on the platform talking like a rap artist, then they'd down him and say he can't communicate.. but that he has delivered his message with more dynamic presence than the white candidates, now they say.. Oh, he's just all talk>>

why not stop looking at his skin, and listen to the points that matter to human beings.

It was the same thing when MLK was marching, whites called the man everything nasty derragatory thing they could.. now years after he is dead, they want to say.. they are for him... because it's not fashionable to be against him, and because his actions led to rights for white women as well..
but during his speaking and his efforts, people talked about him like he had a tail and ate out of a dog bowl..

Goodness ... People face reality, Black people are People, not anything that you think you can do .. that black people cannot do..

you keep the doors shut in one arena and wonder why no black excel in that arena, if you stop blocking the door with your subliminal attitudes and disposition, you may be able to open your eyes and see people as just people.

this is about one sick society..

engage people in conversations rather than running up asking them "loaded questions"...

We are a society that is so out of balance and off center.. no wonder the mess exist in this nation that exist..

pay attention to the issues.. research the issues, and see who is addressing what matters to you of issues..
which way do you want health care to go, pay this way or pay that way?/

that's what is the difference in their health care plans..

then as yourself what does the other party offer and how does it work..

if you pay attention to the issues you may care less about the color of the person who's issues matter.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ashley. People in my innercircle are attempting to pull my vote one way or another in the upcoming presidential election. Since I am a non-affiliated voter, I was unable to vote in our state's closed primary last month. Each time I'm asked who I'll be casting my vote for this November and give the honest answer of "I haven't yet decided," I'm quickly told that I should vote this way or that for whatever superficial reason. Over the last few months and in the coming months I'll be reading the books published by each of the candidates to really inform myself on their positions. When I step into the voting booth this fall, I'll be making a truly informed choice. -- Daphne

ashley said...

Please, learn the correct spelling of the candidate's names. It's Barack Obama, not Barak Obama.

Joel said...

Stephanie, sorry to say, I take issue with your post - though it's good to (read) you. It's been awhile. Big surprise that I disagree though, right?

But I get the impression that if someone said they were going to vote for John McCain or Mitt Romney or John Edwards or John Kerry or, hell, George W. Bush, few people would have any qualms. That would be accepted, no explanation necessary.

Voting for white men has been something we've - as Americans - almost always done. And voters rarely had to explain their choices in those instances. There's an assumption of competence and qualification in white candidates - and men - that others don't automatically get.

Sure, there's an aspect of the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that have a historic component. This is somewhat exciting. But it's no huge leap to accept them as having the stuff of presidents, regardless of their race or gender.

As a native Texan, I'm reminded that Bush had to face little to no question about his qualifications during his first presidential run. Keep in mind that he'd only served as an elected official once before, as governor in a state where the position has limited power. He had little foreign policy experience - amazing, right? - and he'd hardly been a success in business prior to that.

And if he could run for the White House again, I seriously doubt anyone would question the motives of his supporters.

That said, I'm not saying McCain is not a worthy candidate. He is. But no one who's supporting him is being asked to prove it either.

So, why the same for supporters of Obama and Clinton?

Anonymous said...

Could someone let me know what it is acceptable for black people to be racist but it isn't ok for white people? Blacks are allowed to have a very large number of black only organizations but any organization that is suspected of not being properly "diverse" gets huge amounts of negative attention and usually shut down. I find it hard to understand why the same people that would protest against racism are members of organizations that are by their very existence, racist. Why is it acceptable to have black tv stations, black fraternities and sororities, organizations for the advancement of colored people, etc. etc. It is this sort of hypocrisy that is truly sickening. This line of questioning will of course be offensive to black people, however, it does not change the fact that these racist organizations exist and are embraced by the black community. They embrace the very thing that they will not allow others to have.

Joel said...

Anon, you've raised what Barack Obama might call a "teachable point."

It would be easy to dismiss your questions because there's a large part of me that believes you're being a provocateur and that you're not an innocently ignorant person.

I mean, what part of this conversation has anything to do with the topics you've just raised?

But, let me take you back to a time, say, 40-45 years ago - maybe when your parents were teenagers - and remember that segregation was strictly and often lethally enforced by law.

As such, it's not like black people could attend LSU or join Delta Delta Delta or volunteer with the Kiwanis. Those avenues simply weren't available. Heck, black people weren't even allowed at the same schools or neighborhoods or churches - folks sometimes killed to keep blacks out of these places.

This wasn't the choice of black people, remember. They just wanted an equal and safe and prosperous lot in life. So, lacking other avenues and means, they started their own fraternities, social clubs, churches, businesses and entertainment outlets.

These groups still exist today because, let's be honest, some of those avenues are still tacitly closed and black people have had only had about 40-45 years to enjoy the same constitutional freedoms as everyone else. If it's truly been that many years - I know that some school districts in Texas (and elsewhere) were still being forcibly desegregated in the early 1980s. Times could change yet again, no?

But if it makes you feel better, Anon, feel free to start up your own white fraternity or tv station. I seriously doubt many black people will want to join anyway. Not that you probably have many black friends as it is.

Oh, and remember this historical footnote: four of the seven original founders of the NAACP were white, including one whose family owned slaves.

USAneedschange said...

Well, let me first say that Joel I agree with your post wholeheartedly. Very well said. I shouldn't have to present a speech on why I am supporting Obama. I look at him and see a true leader who can bring about change in a world that very much needs it. I see a well-spoken, intelligent, very qualified candidate, that I agree with on the majority, if not all,of the issues that are important to me. He just happens to be black...period.

Now, I'd like to address a few of the questions that the anonymous poster before me posed.

It's not acceptable for ANYONE to be racist. The fact that you think organizations for black people are racist goes, to show your fear of the black race. Have you ever heard of country clubs? Yeah, those...they are all over the country and they used to be exclusively white and a number of them still are. I guess there's no problem with that though, is there? I wouldn't expect a white person to understand why black people would want something for themselves so, I'll try to help you understand(although, I'm sure you still wont get it). For the longest, white people reserved the right to tell black people when to blink,breathe,where they could eat,sit,drink,sleep,take a crap,etc...and now because we have a few orginazations that are predominantly black, it's an all out racist war against white people? Give me a freaking break. I bet you didnt know that those fraternities and sororities that you think are so racist actually do have white,asian,latino, and indian members.
It's acceptable to have tv stations that cater to black people, because if you REALLY take a look at tv, magazine,really any form of media, then you will see that the 90% + of it caters to white people. You dont even pay attention to that because it's your race that it caters to. Imagine being a young child, other than white, and never or hardly ever seeing someone that looks like you on tv, or in a magazine. Imagine, for a minute, what that does to a child's self perception. You should open your eyes to something other than white america.

Anonymous said...

What I see is that I made an observation and you call me a racist. Because like with anything else, if you make any comments about the "state of racial equality" and how blacks are now being treated special, then you get tagged as a racist.

I am not a racist but I do not like the fact that I am supposed to feel ashamed of being white. I had nothing to do with slavery, I grew up with black people all my life, hell, I have even dated black women. But whatever. I guess I must be a racist.

To your point: I could not create a white only organization as it is against the law to create an organization that discriminates based on race, sex, religion. But yet somehow there are black organizations that are allowed to exist. I am not a racist I simply don't understand how there can be an association for the advancement of colored people. How there can be black entertainment awards. National black organizations, period. All organizations that did not allow people of other races have been sued and boycotted out of existence or made to no longer be exclusive. With white exclusive means racist, but with a black organization it is called something else? and the media doesn't cater 90% to whites. typing "REALLY" in all caps doesn't make it true.

In order to have equality you cannot have race specific oranizations, white, black, hispanic or otherwise.

I still can't get over the fact that you called me a racist and think I am all about "white america". For your information I have lots of black friends. Some of my frat brothers were black. I don't see what that has to do with anything.

USAneedschange said...

Anon, where in my post were you actually called racist? I simply asked you to open your eyes and mind to the reality of the media catering to white America and to try and really see it. Although, I knew that you couldn't or wouldn't see it. I think the problem lies with you assuming and misreading my post.

I never made the assumption that you should feel ashamed of being white or that you had anything to do with slavery. I hope no man is ashamed of being whatever race they are. I don't have a problem with anyone being proud of their race. What I do have a problem with is when another race puts down other races in an attempt to show that they're proud of their race. I really don't think you're racist. I just think that you don't fully understand the plight of black people in America, but, why would you? Dating black women and having black friends still won't make you understand it anymore.

Joel said...

Anon, I feel sorry for you. If, indeed, your comprehension skills are this bad, then you can't be helped here. Maybe you need to take or re-take your American history classes.

And, I bet if I asked these supposed "black friends" of yours what they thought about you, I'd hear something different.

Same for that black woman that you supposedly dated. I mean, you're positively a man for all cultures, aren't you?

No way you could be racist. How could we have been so stupid - he even dates black women. You're sooooo multicultural, dude.

Anonymous said...

Great rebuttal Joel. Mockery, and not even good mockery at that. But I can’t say I would have expected more.

Who says I am not multicultural. I am understanding and sympathetic to the troubles of different cultures.

But that doesn't change the fact that there are black organizations that exist that the white counterpart to would be protested by the black community. White Entertainment Television. The National Association for the Advancement of White People. White American Male Empowerment Summit. White Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Congress of National White Churches.

This site lists a whole bunch of : http://www.littleafrica.com/resources/organizations.htm

But yeah... I am the ignorant one. So an American History class will make me understand why those black organizations are allowed but white ones aren't. Don't even get me started on Kwaanza (a holiday that promotes racism?).

The plight of blacks in America? What about the plight of Americans in America. It seems to me that people are having problems across the board. It hasn’t anything to do with race. What about the plight of native Americans in America? They were treated worse than black people.

Those statements still don't change the fact that white people are not allowed to have pride in their culture and heritage. All the ‘sons of the south’ seem to get grief about flying the rebel flag, do they not? But I guess that is because people view it as a heritage of hate (even though slaves fought on the side of the south (hey Joel, I picked that up in American history class, I bet you think the civil war was fought over slavery.)

But I realize that the more I say I guess the more "guilty" I would look. I appreciate usaneedschange comments, at least they were intelligent (unlike joel's which is something I would expect from someone in grade school). I agree that the usa needs change. But I also think that the change is needed all around. And I am not accusing every black person of being racist against white people. But fair is fair.

And I don’t think that 90% of the tv and media is geared towards whites. ESPECIALLY not The Times.

There is a different set of rules in America depending on a person's race (just like with there is with money. It is almost like rich is a different race, lol). To claim otherwise is ignorant.

Anonymous said...

With all the racism talk that is going on and with the protests and everything. If we are going to move along as a nation we can't continue to get bogged down in race. Having all these groups and divisions don't help anything. Those groups only promote differences. Everyone has problems but it doesn't help anything when all we do is keep ourselves divided.

Joel said...

Anon, this is the last time I address this impasse that really doesn't belong under this post.

If you don't know or care to know the history or reasons for the creation of traditionally black colleges, social clubs or fraternities, etc., then you never will. Regardless, white people are most certainly welcome into these organizations. Who told you that they weren't?

Yes, I DO think the Civil War was fought over slavery. If only because the Southern states were fighting for their state rights to own slaves. Again, this is an old tired point.

Not to mention, BET is owned by Viacom, which most certainly is not a black media conglomerate.

Anyway, Anon, I don't need your approval to justify my arguments. This is a ridiculous conversation, ok? You don't have legitimate questions - as I thought, you're being a provocateur. What does this conversation have to do with the "black vote"?

So, feel free to fly your Confederate flag. If that what you're looking for? Permission? You should be proud to be white. There. Happy?

I didn't read the rest of your post because it gave me tiredhead. Sorry for that.

Anonymous said...

why is it that any time blacks point out an aspect to some white, they come back saying.. they don't like being made to feel ashame of being white..nobody asked them to feel ashame.. but people don't want to look deep inside of themselves.. and see where the nature of bias is rooted..
people don't get it..

we are only 47 years from the Jim Crow, and the south is lagging behind in everything, but we are making progress.
I remember here in 71, during school, a white girls liked for me to meet her at the skating rink, and they wanted to kick us out for couple skating..

things are a lot better in many ways, but some people have covered their bias with layer of pretentious niceness.. and when they get frustrated, then the bias come thru to the surface..

this whole campaign thing, they attack the man because he can speak well... and make little of it, they dig and dig and claim he is connected to a racist church, but was it not the black church that organized the founders who fought racism and took it to the courts, and it will be the churches that fight the inequality and may take it back to court..

there was a time during Jim crow, that blacks could not speak up, and even in jobs now.. people don't and can't stand for black people to speak up, and many can't stand for blacks to be knowledgeable about stuff they don't have equal knowledge about.. it's alway met with some put down comment, or something that tries to make them look bad.. rather than address the point, share in knowledge gathering and move along..

there are still places that expect us to have superior qualification to the 3rd degree.. and it's not just in this state... I've worked jobs where they have brought in white men, who had not a clue what to do nor how to do it... and they have made them supervisors.. I see it here in these stores, especially dollar stores.. some of these people who are managers, have not even the clue that the first priority is to service the customer, they rather sit in the office, and let the lines grow 6-7 people long, before they even acknowledge they need help.. some even get an attitude is you ask for register help..

I see people put in office jobs, that have no idea how to do anything on a computer beyond, read email.. and I've seen some make the most simple of spread sheets that become no more than sheets of list, they don't know how to format it, not to make it even do basic addition.. and some of these people are paid top dollar..
there are people on jobs that still think whip cracking attitudes is how to deal with employess, but we have a country trying to go tell other countries about workers rights and having some human reforms in their work manner.

I've heard countless people speak about white supervisors, who can't bear to listen to worker, share an idea of how to improve performance,..

But look around... and ask yourself a question.. who are the people sitting in the top seats when these companies fail.. ?? they are not black.. who is doing the deals to outsource the jobs, those people are not black, because there are only 6-7 black CEO's in this country of fortune 500 companies..

but then you get these fresh out of college daddy's son need a job, guys who are placed in the position, and all they know is quarterly reports, and they will sell out the company to have the top slot in a quarterly report, even if the company is then set on a failure track, for him to achieve his quarterly glory... it's happening over and over...

these are not black people at the top of the companies destroying them..

if we look back to the end of Slavery, the black were willing to work, but the plantation owners did not want to pay them reasonably, and then they set up share cropping, then the share cropper was charged double for stuff, so he could not succeed.. it was many black who ran all aspects of some of those plantations.. and they thrived.. so if whites were so superior, then how did the plantations of the south fail, just because he had to pay for labor.. ?

so the resistance to pay, he chose to let the plantation fail, rather than pay for the labor, where the workers could have a quality of life.

Union were paying top dollar, until minorties and women could join them, then they said people were making too much and no one would buy our products.. but that's not true, the world bought our products at a higher price because they knew they were getting a better quality product... so they moved the jobs off shore and began to sell cheap products.. and eventually lead to the fact we have no industry.. and we use foreign cheap parts in the industry that is left..

this is a very big picture.. if you truly view it in it's entirety.. or have the heart to truly view it.

We went to the stand of having cheap products.. on the market as long as it supported not having industry where blacks and women could make a decent living and the white males could stay on top, so they cut benefits and ship off jobs, and the whites who sit above the glass ceiling simply started paying themselves more.. and that hierarchy of the white male being on top, with a few white females.. is still set in motion as the cast system mentality... now the executives which are mostly white, make millions, while the wage of the worker is cut, the benefits are cut, and the rate of millions to the CEO continue to increase.. now how is that any different than the slave and master program.. they just have new slaves called "Chinese workeres".. and domestic slave handlers, who move around the stuff the Chinese make, while the people at the top reap the profits.

this country cannot get past, what it built itself upon.. and that's the search and usage of slave labor.. when china increase it wages, they will shift the jobs to Cambodia or vietnam, as the new slave force.. and the more robots they can get in american to move the stock.. they one's at the top , pay themselves another raise.. and thus it's sealed that the minorities and women.. get as little as possible.

Anonymous said...

Joel, that "tirehead" feeling you have. Muscles that aren't used very often generally hurt when you first start exercising them. Go back to your life of just fitting in and doing what you are told, don’t question just believe.

I noticed another long post so I will read that before commenting. Although I wonder if it is even worth commenting.

This topic of conversation is relative because this thread is about divisions in race. Since the topic was about race and such I wanted to see what the young reporters of The Times thought about racial equality and what they thought about organizations that are racially motivated. My question has been answered it seems. And I came under attack for asking.

Slavery was an underlying issue of the civil war, but the civil war was not fought over slavery. So don't presume me ignorant when you are the person who doesn't know history. http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war.htm

Also, do not presume that I am asking your permission for anything.

I never said I didn't understand how those organizations came into being. I am asking why they are allowed to stay in existence in an age where it is taboo to be racially divided. I will read the other post later and see if that is worth commenting.

Stephanie Netherton said...

Well hey there joel!

And for once I don't really disagree with you. I think race and gender play an important part in the historical aspects of this election, however I think it has nothing to do with qualifications.

I believe Clinton and Obama are qualified on grounds other than race and gender.

OH, and by the way, the owner of that Bossier taco stand called today about another review. I'm sure you remember the guy ... anyway, your work is still making an impact here. Even in the world of tacos!

second hand said...

Anon, I have some questions for you. What is white? What country does white originate?

After you figure out that White is a made up word that is used only in country where European countries conquered or colonized. I want you to go back and check your heritage then join a organization that caters to your heritage. I bet you there is one.

But to just start a white organization is just too vague. Because that should still open the doors for creole, albino, gypsies, and muslim european. But I bet you that you don't want them in your club. Just the southern, conservatives that feel they have been let down by America. You can't just meet one criteria. You have to meet all of the criteria. So you can't be a Irish, liberal from Boston. Nope! He might bring more Patties and you know what they do. (sarcasm)

African American (AA) or Black organizations are for young people of like heritage. Since our known heritage only goes so far back(slavery) we started groups with that same background. I have heard of AA organizations denying people of mixed heritage from joining but what you don't hear is those chapters losing their flag after the news was broke.

All I am saying is when you are knowledgable of your heritage you won't be so easily persuaded by racist propoganda. You have to go further than the Civil War. Just think in the 1800's Irish, Scottish and Italian immigrants were said to be the downfall of America. LOL! :)

Thunder said...

LOL @ ashley confirming that one of the things educated blacks love is to correct others. "It's Barack Obama, not Barak Obama."