Subconsciously, Race Matters
by David Clark '09
Letter to The Stampede
I thought I would never solely support a candidate because of their race. But my heart thought differently.
I am a 17 year old, African American senior in high school, and the 2008 Presidential Election was the first election that I paid much attention to. I was too young to really understand the past elections, and for some reason, this one was particularly more interesting to me.
I have always said that I would never support a candidate simply because of their race. During the primaries, I favored Hillary Clinton. While most of my family thought that Barack Obama would be the best thing to happen to America, I claimed that Clinton's experience would better qualify her to be President. As we all know, Obama won the primaries and went on to be the democratic candidate. Naturally, I continued to support my party and its candidate.
This school year, I enrolled in a class called United States and the World, which was basically a current events class. And since this class was around the same time as the elections, we focused a lot of time talking about them. We went into deep study of each candidate and their view. All the students found out what party they associated best with and what candidate they favored most. My stances on the issues turned out to truly lean democrat. I agreed with Obama on almost all of his views.
A lot of people thought that the only reason I supported him was because of the color of his skin. And I fought hard to make people understand that it was more than his race that inclined me to support him. It was his stance on universal healthcare. It was his plan to give amnesty to illegal immigrants. It was his idea to create more jobs through alternative energy research. These were reasons I supported him. And I wanted people to know that there was more to my decision than him being African American.
So around 11 o'clock on November 4, 2008, it was announced that Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States. I was ecstatic. The candidate I had agreed with most won, and now the issues that I thought were most important would be focused on.
But it was more than that. It was this feeling of pride that I never felt before. This feeling that made me walk a little taller and stick my chest out a little further. And I soon realized that this pride did not come from having a President from the party I associated with. But it came from the fact that Obama was African American, just like me. Finally, there was a president that I could relate to; one that might have had the same struggles that I have had growing up as a black male in America. It gave hope to me. It told me that regardless of race I could be anything I wanted to be. Hard work did have a reward. It also showed the major strides that black people have made in history. It is not everyday that one can see an event and actually know that it will be a major milestone in history. This was one of those events. This would go down in the history books, and I was able to see it happen. It felt good to know that African Americans would be seen in history, not only as famous slaves and as great entertainers, but as a leader of one the most powerful countries in the world. This is what we had worked towards for all these years.
And I realized that it did not matter whether I agreed with or strongly disagreed with Obama. My heart would have supported him anyway because it longed for that feeling I just described. While I supported Clinton out loud, I subconsciously rooted for Obama. My soul wanted so much for an African American to have this highly regarded position. So honestly, if I could have voted for Obama, the driving force would have been because he was black.
I have learned that it is natural for minorities who had once been oppressed to strive for and do whatever it takes for the advancement of their minority. It's not about only supporting someone of the same race, but it's about the joy and pride that comes along with knowing that one's race has achieved a prominent spot in history.
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