I did not intend to write a political blog this week. After watching Kanye West’s Runaway short film I was fully intent on blogging about the creative genius of the Louie Vuitton Don. I watched the 34-minute film three times, and meticulously took notes on the subliminal messages evoked by the ballerinas in the all black leotards against the backdrop of the Black dinner guests adorned in all white. However, I’ll have to save my color commentary on the colorism in Ye’s video. I also was going to write about the preteen sensation that has everybody breaking their necks right about now- Willow Smith. How many 9 year olds do you know that can shut down Twitter? Yet, even Jada and Will’s pride and joy will need to take a back seat this week. We are exactly two weeks away from Election Day, and it is crucial that we stay focused on the important issues that will affect our lives.
Last night I had the opportunity to talk policy with U.S. Senate candidate and Illinois Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias. About 100 University of Chicago students and I were afforded an opportunity to press Gianoullias about everything from the Dream Act to expanding broadband infrastructure in marginalized communities. I came into the forum not knowing much about Mr. Giannoulias other than the fact that he was the former Illinois State Treasurer. But after an intimate 40 minute discussion with the candidate I was impressed enough to provide him with an endorsement. Allow me to make the case for Alexi Giannoulias.
1. Closing Digital Disparities
During the panel discussion I asked Giannoulias if he thought the digital divide was a 21st century civil rights issue. He responded yes. Although many elected officials recognize that lack of access to information technology prohibits citizens on the margins, especially those in rural areas, the opportunity to engage in the political process, many have dragged their feet on doing something about it. Gianoullias not only recognizes that a problem exist, but is fighting to increase the funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. He also supports the proliferation of Community Technology in underserved areas.
2. Curbing Youth Violence In Urban Communities
Far too often when many political elites discuss the plight of Black youth in America they play the blame game. They shun young Black people for their wayward morals without focusing on the structural problems that have bred violence and underachievement in schools. Giannoulias understands that truly address the unabated violence among youth of color in Illinois and most specifically Chicago, young people need to be provided with positive outlets. Moreover, their communities need greater resources. Alexi supports the Youth Promise Act, which invests in proven juvenile delinquency intervention and prevention programs. The legislation focuses on collecting data on youth violence, evaluating programs for effectiveness, and scaling up programs that have shown dramatic reductions in violence.
3. Equal Opportunities for All Children
Many politicians moan and groan about how America is losing its competitive edge to other countries, especially when it comes to science and math. However, very few have addressed the fact that in 2010 many of our schools are separate and unequal. Last night Alexi addressed the need to expand programs like the Harlem Children Promise zone in urban areas all across the country. During the Bush regime $300 million was redirected to a program called “Pell Grants for Kids”, which allowed some children the opportunity to leave poorly performing public schools, but still left public education in shambles Giannoulias supports restoring full funding for the Child Care and Development Fund.
These are only three issues of many that I support Alexi Giannoulias on. The reason I highlighted these three are because they specifically deal with the plight of Black Youth in America. I encourage all Illinois voters who care about increasing jobs and opportunities for All people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or income level to vote on November 2nd for Alexi Giannoulias!