Explore Our Talents, Help Students of Color #MoreThanAvote #2R1WM #B4uVote #EveryStateVoteNow

“I don’t make records for pleasure. I did when I was a younger artist, but I don’t today. I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.” – Marvin Gaye.

 As a student at the University of Cincinnati, I was a member of the Racial Awareness Program (RAPP) – a program created to allow space and structure for students to engage in meaningful intergroup dialogue on issues of race and social justice. Every trimester we would take a retreat to explore race, culture, gender, socioeconomic class, sexuality, and other areas of difference. We would share our personal experiences and build on a shared commitment to creating a more just community. Many meaningful moments stand out, but there’s one that seemed to sum-up our time together. 

 After participating in a weekend of “race awareness” activities, each person was asked what they would do if they could wave a magic wand and create change. A member told the group, “honestly, it may sound shocking, but I would change the history of slavery because things didn’t seem to work out for African Americans.” She did not like how it felt to be a slave during the race awareness activities and was not interested in experiencing this her entire life. Over the next few months, we talked, learned together, and spent time walking in other people’s shoes. 

 By most accounts, she lived a privileged life and was the center of most interactions and institutions she participated in on campus. Even though she genuinely accepts others and is a quick study, she didn’t have much background knowledge of race relations. She didn’t have prerequisite familiarity and competences in key cultural areas, including civic engagement, education, and systemic racism, which inhibited her social justice development. To help her make that connection, we spent our time together discovering where these gaps of awareness and understanding were. We then put in a lot of work, plugging these holes with culturally relevant experiences and information to better understand issues. The goal was to begin the process of providing a substantial understanding of our culture in nine months.

 Ending systemic racism is a long and deliberate effort. Our teachers must first acknowledge it exists, then research and learn culturally relevant curricula. Educators have to teach students to be antiracists deliberately. Lastly, we must develop lesson plans from the student of color’s perspective to address generational trauma and social-economic justice issues. We need an evidence-based teaching strategy that embraces our differences and enriches our learning experiences. Using a distinctive approach like this means that we empathize with students of color and understand their experiences as our responsibility too. By recognizing the personal experiences they come to school with, we connect their past state of fluctuation, education, and abilities to the convergence of their everyday lives.

 My grandmother said it best. She would say, “everyone is blessed with at least one unique talent. Take time now to discover, define, and develop your talent. Don’t go to your grave with your untapped talent buried inside you.” Her point was that all students of color have unique capabilities. The key to helping them succeed is to engage in inspiring activities that capitalize on their educational experiences. While doing so, we unearth their talent by being familiar with the disparities from many heritages — cultural, socioeconomic, racial, and sex. We have to reach out to each other, regardless of our distinctive culture contrasts, enthusiasm, or particular kinships. This will fundamentally bring about change for every student — students who arrive in our schoolrooms each year, and potentially those who do not.

Students are extraordinarily capable individuals, and they can accomplish amazing feats if we inspire and support them.

 Fundamental change is what it’s going to take for the United States to bounce back from this global pandemic, economic, civil, and human rights crisis. Last week I spent time talking with my NAACP mentee while he was on the campaign trail, and we explored this issue. We spoke about past civil rights campaigns the “good old days.” After I told him a story about my time in Toledo, Ohio, and the 1964 Rambler I drove, he teased me. We laughed about how the passenger side floorboard had rusted out, and I would drive over puddles, so no one wanted to ride shotgun when it rained. We talked about the places I would go to and how owning my first car gave us a sense of empowerment. Even though they got wet occasionally, passengers benefited too.

 We talked about how Ohioans have and always will rely on jobs from places like the auto industry and the recent stimulus package. As voters, students of color know what it means to have family members working over fifty-five hours a week on a Jeep line in Toledo. Now that we’ve lost so many jobs, those workers need help making ends meet. Maybe that’s why voters are so disappointed about politicians failing to pass a stimulus package. Like the stimulus package, the auto industry supports 1 of every eight jobs in Ohio, and many of these jobs are essential for students of color.

 Amid a persistent barrage of fractious issues stemming from a lack of quality education, financial freedom, and adequate healthcare, we must encourage and cultivate civic engagement. After seeing how this impacts students of color, I started to wonder what the stimulus package’s long-term effects would be in places like Ohio and Georgia. Will this widening opportunity divide in public education, economic justice, and healthcare play out similarly in both states?

  • Voters of color make up 33% of Georgia’s registered voters (30% Black, 2% Latino, and 1% Asian).
  • Georgia has over 850,000 Latino residents, and 26% are eligible to vote.
  • Nationally close to 52,000 Latinos turn 18 every month, and 9 out of 10 of those are eligible to vote.
  • Latinos will account for 52% of Georgia’s new eligible voters.

Looking at a new study, it seems that the U.S. is on track to have a similar electorate as 2008, where the youth made up 18% of the vote. As witnessed on the state level in 2008, an energized student of color electorate gave President Obama the victory in Ohio, Virginia, and New Jersey (Georgia was close). While voters under 30 were 17% of the electorate for both Ohio and New Jersey in 2008, that number in Virginia was 21%.

  • New Jersey’s Hudson county population grew by 4% to 634,266, and the Jersey City population increased 3% to 247,597. 
  • This is a substantial majority of Latino, African American, and Asian American city and has well over 95,000 key VOC.

Diversity in the electorate is good for our democracy. Students of color are key voters, and as demographics shift, with culture and community necessities transforming in the next decade, our politics will as well. First, our political leaders must listen carefully to students of color. Educators must keep an open mind while being persistent in constantly assembling and teaching evidence-based information and data. Lastly, future employers must analyze their approach and methodology to cultivate talent and help students of color thrive after they graduate. We must pin our ears back, reflect on our past, and encourage students of color to achieve their aspirations. Students are extraordinarily capable individuals, and they can accomplish amazing feats if we inspire and support them.

To be continued …

Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative investing and acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.

Pour On The Passion, Students of Color Can Amplify Our Success #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote #EveryStateVoteNow

“Ain’t nothing like the real thing.” – Marvin Gaye.

I remember my first time participating in a Presidential Inauguration. My grandmother and I volunteered for the Clinton / Gore ’92 Presidential campaign early in the election cycle, and we received inaugural ball tickets allowing us to attend the big dance. Later, she signed us up to help with the event set up. Nervous about beating the closing time for renting a tuxedo, I was less than enthusiastic about how long “bag stuffing” was taking. My grandmother pulled me aside and reminded me, “Pour on the passion and put your heart into everything you do. A lukewarm effort produces mediocre results. If you pour on the passion, you’ll experience an intense success in all your achievements.” She was right. The harder I work, the better I felt. The more passionate I became, the better I performed. It benefitted me later in life — I joined the D.N.C. as a campaign trainer. My passion allowed me to successfully lead regional trainings for presidential campaign managers for the 1996 presidential campaign.

What it’s going to take for the United States to bounce back from this global pandemic, economic, civil, and human rights crisis? While having a conversation with an NAACP mentee, I pointed out how authentic, passionate, and righteous movements attract hardworking “pro-public education” advocates and students of color. What’s more important to understand is that to cultivate passionate young movement leaders, we must be careful to have faith in these students’ interests and nurture their natural propensity to question authority. It’s easy to forget that as we push them to support a “traditional” agenda, they will be less active and take up less space civically. So, loosening institutional “vintage” policies and allow the students to make adjustments to civic engagement programs from time to time is key. Instead of pushing standard concepts on students of color, let them choose from a list of essential issues that match their passion. Design cooperative valuations that establish connections with the institution’s overarching principles and allow students to support naturally aligned issues.

For example, amid a persistent barrage of fractious issues stemming from a lack of quality education, financial freedom, and adequate healthcare, we must encourage and cultivate civic mentorships. By expanding the leadership pool as mentors, we are molding students of color to take leadership of our movements. While learning from them how it works, we’ll be demonstrating what we value. As a result of meeting them where they are, we transform their analytical perspicacity as we compensate for our lagging activism indicators. In the long run, creating diverse methods to improve the capability of students of color will boost civic engagement performance while they learn to deliberate more meaningfully, judiciously, and forcefully.

A prosperous society is built on a nucleus of hardworking, talented, and compassionate leaders that are trustworthy people.

A well resourced public education, economic justice, and a robust healthcare system are key to grow our community. This is why choosing political leaders are the most critical exercises in judgment a nation performs. It offers a rare view of the nation’s core values and beliefs. For example, students of color would be in terrible shape if politicians defunded public education, repealed our current healthcare system, and changed Medicare for the worse. As a result, we would see this impact on everyone’s daily lives in our communities, including our seniors.

Of the 47 million Americans covered by Medicare or Medicare Advantage, the elderly makeup most of our nation’s most vulnerable who depend on the red, white, and blue Medicare card. This economic policy has significant real-life implications. Before it was inception in 1965, one in three seniors lived in poverty, many having spent their life savings on costly medical care. Today, only one in six older adults are in poverty due to medical cost. Medicare has made a difference.

Many experts note that the senior voting block is one of the most educated and active constituencies in politics. Therefore, this provides us with an exceptional opportunity to discuss the need for a balanced approach to America’s health and financial security.

Further, Medicare is one of the best issues for debating the role and size of the government. Shrinking the current size and function of healthcare may affect our economy. A recent study underscores how serious Medicare’s issue is for senior voters — especially voters of color. According to the survey-

 ● Two-thirds of Latino and Three-Fourths of African American senior voters plan to rely on Medicare even more due to the economy’s state.

 ● 49% of Latinos and 35% of African Americans are not confident that Medicare will be there for them and future generations.

 ● 90% of Latinos and 97% of African Americans say the next President and Congress need to strengthen Medicare for future generations.

 ● 97% of Latinos and 98% of African Americans believe political leaders need to come together to find a solution to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

To get a better sense of Medicare’s significance, I remember a conversation with my Grandma. “Baby, these politicians will tell you anything to get elected. The truth is, I now get several benefits after Obamacare.”

She reminded me of how the family struggled to help her pay prescription costs until she started receiving the discounts. “Remember how you were shocked at the bill? I think it’s called closing the doughnut hole.” We also talked about how seniors now get free wellness visits and the limit on out of pocket costs for things like co-pays. She shot back, “how will it work if they repeal it?”

I couldn’t answer that because I haven’t seen a new healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. I’ve seen “A Pledge to America” in 2010, but nothing happened. No wonder these politicians have some of the lowest approval ratings in history; at times, only 10% of Americans approved their job. According to the study, more than 62% of Latinos and 67% of African American senior voters disapprove of these politicians.

That’s why it’s so interesting that our seniors feel abandoned – 64% of Latino and 65% of African American seniors believe their economic circumstances have been negatively affected by these politicians. Also, 88% of Latinos and 93% of African Americans think Medicare is critical to maintaining their health.

Those two numbers may indicate why politicians are having such a hard time connecting with voters on a personal level. A reported 74% of Latinos and 80% of African American seniors say “learning the politician’s plans on strengthening and reforming” Medicare would help them decide who to vote for. Yet 48% of Latinos and 39% of African American seniors say politicians are not doing a good job explaining their plans to strengthen and or reform Medicare. To them, if you don’t have a comprehensive healthcare plan, people may take it to mean you’re hiding something.

Are V.O.C. in swing states paying attention to this debate? Will Americans vote for the person they trust? To figure this out, we should look to states like Nevada, where the country gained a Congressional seat and an electoral vote after the 2010 census.

  • V.O.C. now makes up 28% of the citizen voting-age population, and 60% of them are registered to vote.
  • V.O.C. represented 26% of the electorate in 2008, and that number jumped to 29% in 2010.
  • That year, Latinos represented 16% of the vote share, and 69% voted for the progressive Senate candidate. While North Las Vegas grew by 87% to 216,961 and now has over 46,000 “key” V.O.C. in the area, it will take plenty of resources to engage this electorate.
  • Note that 88% of Nevada’s baby boomers disapprove of the job these politicians are doing, and 93% believe they need to find a solution to strengthen Social Security and Medicare for future generations.

For over 46 years, Medicare has made a difference for millions of Americans. It is one government program that has worked so well that people don’t think it’s a government program at all. Many seniors say that “if I didn’t have Medicare, doctor bills could wipe me out and put a burden on my kids.” Paying six thousand dollars more for insurance may not sound like much, but if you’re a senior citizen living on a fixed income and you’re already counting every penny, that is serious money.

Each voter must make deliberate choices about who we will support, which means weighing and mulling over each option. After a lot of tough decisions, we will cast our vote and live with the consequences. As my Grandma said, “I don’t care about getting credit for being the generation that created Medicare.” All that matters is that it works, and everyone has access to it when we need it. She reminded me that we all stand on the shoulders of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. They taught us that America works best when we all passionately help each other become successful. A prosperous society is built on a nucleus of hardworking, talented, and compassionate leaders that are trustworthy people. Trust is important. The thing is, “you can’t buy trust; you earn it.”

To be continued …

Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative investing and acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.