Revolution Online, November 3, 2008

Chicago Youth Struggling about Obama

To Revolution Newspaper:

Maybe you’ve been in the kind of discussion where someone says something and in no time there are three or four people talking at once following an idea down different pathways.  A couple of us were out on the Westside and Southside of Chicago this weekend and conversations were like that—the atmosphere was very politicized and people wanted to talk.

We were taking out the special issue of Revolution on “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need,” along with the current issue [#146], and especially talking to people about the article, “The Morning after the Elections… and the Change We Really Need… What are YOU Going to Do Now?” The conversations were also informed by the Letter from a Reader online, “The Elections, and Being Ready for Anything.”

People—both youth and older people—were conveying a feeling that change was necessary and possible (and problematic and iffy) and that they, themselves felt a responsibility for that change.  And people’s thinking was still overall confined within the terms of the system while also informed by a deep sense of the injustices faced by Black people and of that being deeply rooted in the society.  And all this discussion seething around what might happen on election day, what Obama could or couldn’t, would or wouldn’t do and why and what people themselves needed to be doing.

Here’s a little of the flavor—a discussion with a group of youth who had marched against police attacks in their neighborhood and plan to be at the big Obama rally downtown in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night.

They were very interested in the special issue (the first one who got it said, “yeah, revolution, that’s what we need”).

Then one youth jumped right in talking about how everything was going to be different once Obama was elected—how he would be inspired to do more with his life.

Another guy started giving me and his friends a civics lesson on how Obama won’t make the changes we want because “he has to go through Congress and there’s a whole system of checks and balances.”

Part of the conversation was getting into the question of stolen elections and a guy was saying “it seems like there is something fishy going on because you have all this early voting and everyone is going for Obama but they are talking about the margin narrowing.”

When we brought up that Obama was not going to end the wars a couple of guys jumped in saying “Yes he is—he’s going to talk with Iran and the other guy isn’t.”  “He’s going to talk with Iran—and then he’ll do whatever.”  “If you’re the president of Iran you don’t want a soldier talking to you—you want to talk to the Don, as is fitting to your position.”

“Ok, so he talks with Iran—which is a sovereign nation—and they say, ‘well we still want to build our own nuclear power plants’ then does the US have a right to attack them?”

One guy came right out, “No—that would be a straight out gangster move!”

The guys are going to read “The Morning After the Elections…” article and we are going to resume the conversation.

In a separate conversation a woman who works two jobs talked about how it was quite possible that “Once Obama gets into office everything he promised—he won’t do any of it.”  Then she reflected, “actually, he hasn’t promised what people think he has.  We just hear him promising things that he isn’t even talking about—he isn’t talking about us, he’s talking about the middle class but people hear something different than what he is actually saying.  But something has to change.”

She said “We [Black people] have had so little for so long that it couldn’t get worse.”—and then she talked about how many people were losing their homes because they’d been tricked into subprime mortgages and couldn’t make the ballooning payments.

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