While listening to NPR last week, I was struck by a woman being questioned about her choice for the democratic primary, and particularly her thoughts on Hillary Clinton. Her gripe with Hillary was interestingly vague..."I just don't find her authentic".
It sort of stood out for me, because the day before we had a meeting where a guest speaker had brought up the concept of "authenticity" in reference to on-the-ground community organizing. So, her comment sort of stuck with me...well, for like 10 minutes until they started talking about PTSD or that cute little baby polar bear...
But than my friend Eric sent me this incredible interactive site he and his fellow UCB Journalism students put together (in 10 hours nonetheless). As I listened to the stories from the "Black Vote in Oakland", the whole authenticity thing rose back into my consciousness. I thought of the unique challenges that Hillary and Barack have in the Democratic race. The pressure of being 'authentically' black or 'authentically' feminine. The stigma of being a 'rich old white man' does not really carry a challenge at presenting authenticity. the term itself is seemingly rooted in minority status; whether that be class, race, sexuality or gender. And strangely enough, it seems that the first folks to cast the "authenticity" stone, are those who don't really have to deal with the idea of presenting an authentic front themselves.
However, while mainstream media doesn't seem to be able to kick the habit of sensationalizing the "authenticity factor" (I mean enough about Hillary's tears)!. It is great to see pieces like this one, showing the opinions of the vox populi. And what black voters in Oakland have to say, may reflect what a lot of folks have to say about the candidates. It's about representation. America is saying "I want to feel like I'm being represented by my government."
And when people like Chantay Polk from East Oakland say "I didn't know whether to vote for her because she was a woman or Barack because he's black", I just have to say "amen" to the fact that we are finally seeing a diversity in folks in politics. It encourages folks to vote which in turn strengthens the ever-dwindling American democracy. And even if they're ideas aren't revolutionary their position as the two front runners for the presidential candidate of the Democratic party, certainly is!