A Mat-Su Teen Speaks Out

18 11 2008

Days in Alaska politics tend to focus on things like the Legislative Council, The Ethics Act, the endless and ongoing vote count in Alaska, the corruption and conviction of Alaska politicians and the latest comings and goings of our Governor… So when something like this lands softly in my inbox, it stops me in my tracks. This is part of an essay written by a self-described “Caucasian high school girl” named Waverli Rainey who lives in Palmer, Alaska. Palmer is the little town that sits right next to Wasilla.

Nov. 4 was a momentous moment for me. I went to the Wasilla Sports Complex for what was called a community event. We were told it was non-partisan because it’s a city building. However, once inside, it seemed as if it was a Republican-only event. Despite this, we stayed. Although I am too young to vote, I sat at the Sports Complex to see who would be the new president. I felt joy as I saw Sen. Barack Obama’s electoral points grow and grow. I clapped for and was impressed by Senator McCain’s graceful speech and his call for unity and support for the new president-elect.

I anxiously awaited what Present-elect Obama would say. Between speeches, a live band played music. However, when President-elect Obama began to speak, those running the event had to be asked to have the band stop so we could hear him speak. Eventually, they stopped playing, but we missed the beginning of the speech. Then half way through this historic speech, former Mayor Keller turned down the audio of President-elect Obama and put on a call from Governor Palin. I certainly understand the desire of Valley residents to hear from the governor, but if this was a non-partisan event, I feel that interrupting the next president was disrespectful. I also feel it did not represent the coming together of America that Senator McCain had only moments before asked his supporters to do.

The event was supposed to be for all parties, for all people, but it didn’t feel like it. I was shocked and offended. The event was supposed to be for supporters of Senators Obama and McCain and no one paid respect to President-elect Obama’s historic moment. Finally, another step toward complete equality and it seemed no one cared.

So the next day I borrowed my mother’s Obama shirt and walked into school wearing my pride on my chest. Finally the campaign was over and I was actively supporting our new president, even though I knew I would be vastly out numbered at school. I expected complaints and qualms about the new president, but I was not prepared for the flat-out racist remarks said openly in the halls and classrooms. I was appalled. While I sat at my desk trying to do my work I could hear my fellow classmates:

“I think we should kill Obama,” one said.

“I hope someone comes up and shoots him in the head,” another would say.

“I hate Obama … he’s black.”

On went the racist words for the full 80 minutes of that class. Angered, I began to think of the injustice of it all and the ignorance of the students I was surrounded by. I wondered where they learned to be so hateful, and I wondered why the teacher never stepped in – why no adult, no student, including myself, had the guts to cut in and say it was not OK. Because it’s never OK for intolerance. It is never OK to cut someone down and dehumanize them because they do not look like you, or think like you, or talk like you, or worship the way you do.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

All men are created equal. All men. That does not mean only if you’re the same color as me, think like me, talk like me, or worship who or how I do. It means regardless of age, gender, race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or religion – we all have the right to life, liberty and happiness. Guilt does not follow race. All Arab-Americans are not Muslim extremists; being Arab-American simply means their family came from a certain part of the world. All Asian-Americans are not all like Kim Il-sung; Asian-Americans come from countries like China, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore and they are not all the same. All African-Americans are not guilty of the genocide seen in places like Rwanda and Kenya.

If we were all guilty of the sins of our race, then what am I — a Caucasian high school sophomore from Palmer, Alaska — guilty of? Am I guilty of stealing land from their Native owners? Am I guilty of enslaving Africans? Am I guilty of the slaughter of entire races of people? Am I guilty of imprisoning Chinese and Japanese in American interment camps?

As a Causation high school girl, it’s easy to forget things like in America you wear a color — often called black, or white, or yellow, or red, or brown. We do not pick our name or race — we’re not chameleons who can change color at will, it’s how we’re born and raised. Being African-American, or Latino, or Asian-American, or Native American, or Alaska Native, or Arab-American is not a crime. Being Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or agnostic is not a crime. Wearing a burqa on your head, or glasses on your face, or studying all views of the world and seeing the flaws of all governments is not a crime.

Sometimes I think of a place where all of our languages are mashed together, singing of our own multi-heritage pride; the pride of a truly unified America. A place where we can be proud of our accents because this is how American English sounds, too. A place where there is no more White Power! or Black Power! Where it’s American Power! Or better yet, where it’s Human Power! A place that proudly conjures images of colonists throwing tea into a harbor, Martin Luther King Jr. standing on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, and immigrants working hard to achieve their American dream all at the same time. We are the story of our culture and colors and I’d like us all to take pride in it.

If ignorance and intolerance and bigotry is our past, then Waverli Rainey and those young people like her are surely our future. And we’re going to be OK.

To read the entire article in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, and leave a note of support for Waverli, click HERE.

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Signs of the Times in Anchorage. Open Season on Idiocy.

1 11 2008

I had to run an unexpected errand in South Anchorage today. My travels took me to “the Hillside” to one of Anchorage’s more lucrative zip codes. This is the area with the big houses that overlook the Anchorage skyline and Cook Inlet, where you expect to find many traditional Republican voters, and oil industry executives. I decided I was going to keep a tally of yard signs and see what I ended up with. I was quite surprised. Here’s the breakdown, with Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right.

Obama 4 – McCain  0
Begich 18 – Stevens  0 (Senate race)
Berkowitz  8 – Young  0 (House race)
Kenny 17 – Hawker  15 (Local House race)

The latest numbers now show Mark Begich with a 20 point lead over convicted felon Ted Stevens in the Senate race. Ethan Berkowitz is 9 points up in the House race over Don Young. And from the looks of it, the local Democrat might even stand a chance in this Anchorage red zone. My faith is restored.

The bad news in the sign department is that an Obama-Biden sign that got stolen and replaced down the street from me, is gone again. But my own sign, is still sticking proudly in its snowbank.

And remember a while ago, when I found signs hung up over the highway that said, “Obama 4 Change 2 Islamic Law -N- USA”? Well, the perpetrator obviously has nothing but time on his hands, because they’ve started popping up all over town. In actuality this tortured soul with the spray paint, the stencils, and the disregard for the English language has provided a new sport for my spouse.

Today's Haul.

Today's haul.

Spouse has started a collection, and everytime a sign is seen, the brakes screech, the exacto knife comes out of the glove compartment, and the sign ends up in my trunk. I think that Spouse secretly likes this activity. In any case, we  added three new signs to the collection today, which brings the total up to 8.

This time there was a new development….the name of a website was written on one of the signs. Since it was written in small letters, it’s doubtful that our sign maker intended it to be seen by the passing traffic. It was meant…..for US, the sign taker-downers.

Something looked fishy about the website address…. http://www.obessionthemovie.com. Obession? I tried it. No movie. It was as I suspected. I tried obSessionthemovie.com. Paydirt! Obsession – Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The trailer has collapsing towers, crowds chanting “Death to America”, and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of the Fox crowd saying that “every single American should see this movie.”

So keep an eye out Anchorage and Eagle River area residents! It’s open season on illegally displayed, badly written, factually incorrect political signs with spelling mistakes! And you don’t even need a hunting license!

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Human Obama Logo in Anchorage – Video

29 10 2008

Here is the video from last Saturday’s event in downtown Anchorage! Hundreds of Obama supporters gathered in the freezing cold for over an hour to send this video postcard to their fellow Americans “outside.” Enjoy, and pass it on!

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Obama Rally in Homer, Alaska!

28 10 2008

Reports and pictures continue to come in from Mudflatters around the state holding rallies and events for Barack Obama.  These latest shots come from Judi Nester, the Homer Obama co-Chair, in Homer, Alaska, a wonderful small town of about 5000 people located on the Kenai Penninsula, about a four hour drive south of Anchorage.

Judi writes:

Some of the things that we have done in Homer is send out 2,500+ postcards to voters in the swing states of Ohio, PA and IN – phone canvass in Ohio and, of course, Homer and walking canvass of the Homer area. Organized a big rally in the Park – called Unite for Peace and Change – which registered voters and gave a forum for people to make speeches about Obama/Biden. We had speakers ranging in age from 17 to 70+. Now like many Obama campaign volunteers, we are engaged in the GOTV effort in Homer.

We were inspired by the Women for Obama event in Anchorage to do our own photo shoot.  The photos and blog about the event in Anchorage was terrific.  We were able to get over 50 volunteers for our own photo shoot yesterday which is about 1% of the population of Homer.

We have been feverishly working here since about April of this year and have a wonderful volunteer base.  I read Mudflats everyday to get an idea of what’s really happening in Alaska politics.  It’s been wonderful, especially with what everyone has been able to do in the troopergate investigation.

I hope, some day after Obama is firmly entrenched in office, he hears about how hard Alaskans have worked for him, and how many of us have used our energy, our time, and our sign-making ability to be out taking his message to the state of Alaska.

A big hat tip to all the intrepid core volunteers for Obama in Homer – Bob, Kat, Elizabeth, Sharon, Frank, Ingrid, Kim, Shannon, Christie and Bob (the photographer).  Also to the Palpitations musical comedy group for their fabulous performances at three events!

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Anchorage Daily News Endorses Obama!

25 10 2008

Holy Cow.  Alaska’s largest newspaper has endorsed a candidate for president, and it isn’t the guy that shares the ticket with our own Maverick Governor!  As irritated as I have been by the sometimes cloying, often gushy coverage of Sarah Palin, it is inconceivable that any thoughtful person or entity living in the state of Alaska, could possibly think that she is the best choice to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The Anchorage Daily News Endorses Barack Obama. (I just felt like typing that again.)

Here are the highlights:

Alaska’s founders were optimistic people, but even the most farsighted might have been stretched to imagine this scenario. No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin’s nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

[snip]

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

[snip]

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake. She has made it clear she’s a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

And to further redeem themselves in the eyes of the Mudflats Editorial Board (me), they have coverage of today’s Obama rally right there on the front page online, with a nice write-up and a picture.  I had given the first ever “Moose Nugget Award” to the paper after their heavy coverage of the meager pro-Palin rally, and hardly a mention of the gigantic pro-Obama rally happening at the same time right down the block.  Now, I would like to acknowledge that they have tried to make amends, and upgrade them to the coveted “Gilded Moose Nugget!”  (Loud applause, and caps tossed in the air!  Approving snorts from polar bears, wolves howling and chasing their tails!)

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Obama Rally Finale in Anchorage!

25 10 2008

Another great group of Obama supporters congregated on the Park Strip in Anchorage today.  This time, they were on an artistic mission.  The goal?  To create a giant Obama logo made up of pixel people in colored plastic ponchos. 

When I arrived, there were about 300 people already there, and just starting to take their positions.  I laughed because the size of this crowd would have totally blown me away a couple months ago, but now, after a series of enormous rallies (Alaska Women Reject Palin, Alaskans for Truth, Statewide Obama rally), it seemed perfectly normal!

Once again, everyone was all smiles, despite the VERY cold temperatures.  The blue people were being guided into place, by people with bull horns.  Then the white ones filled in part of the center.  Then red ones.  Then more white ones.  All the placement was meticulously coordinated by someone operating a camera from the top floor of a hotel across the street, who gave directions via walkie-talkies to the crew on the ground.  The event was promoted as an Alaska Women Support Barack Obama event, but men were welcome, and plenty showed up!

There were lots of progressive canines decked out in various types of attire, and it was a wonderfully diverse and enthusiastic crowd all around.  Once again there was lots of honking from passing cars, and people rolling down windows to give us big thumbs up in the frigid air.  There was one sad lonely guy on the corner with a sign that said, “Barack Hussein Obama Will Destroy the United States.”  It reminded me of the guy on the street corner with the ancient dog-eared decrepit sign that reads, “The World Will End Tomorrow.”

Finally the finished logo was in place, and the group started chanting O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! which eventually morphed into “Yes We Can!”  And I allowed myself a few moments of imagining what it would be like if Alaska went for Obama this year. 

Then the coordinator with the bullhorn told everyone to remember where they were standing and what their neighbors looked like.  Then, from the top of a ladder he told everyone to disperse out of the “frame” and then when he gave the command, to run in from all sides and reclaim their positions.  He warned everyone to expect total chaos, but that it would be fun.  He was right.  People of all colors – reds, whites, and blues – separated, and then ran back together with whoops and hollers, spinning in circles, clapping, cartwheeling, and jumping, and remarkably formed a pretty decent regenerated logo in less than a minute!

By the time I got back to my car, my nose was red, my thighs were burning, my fingers were numb, and my face was frozen in a big grin.

The rally was organized to send a last-minute photo message to the rest of the country that Alaskans support Obama in large numbers, and that not all Alaskans are in love with Sarah Palin….not by a long shot.  I’ll post pictures of the official logo shot, and video as soon as they become available!

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The Obama Landslide in Alaska. It’s All How You Look at It.

22 10 2008

Brand new poll numbers came out yesterday from Ivan Moore Research, here in Anchorage.

McCain-Palin – 53
Obama-Biden – 42

While McCain/Palin still has a double digit lead, frankly this is a really big deal.

Here is the way Alaska fell out for the last three presidential elections so you can compare:
McCain 53 – Obama 42 (results on 10/21)
Bush 62 – Kerry 35
Bush 59 – Gore 28
Dole 51 – Clinton 33

So, the McCain/Palin ticket in Alaska has managed so far to generate only slightly more interest than Bob Dole. Remember him? And that’s with our governor on the ticket! That’s not much in the way of bragging rights. As a matter of fact, I’m ready to call this a major psychological victory for Obama and the Democrats in Alaska. I feel quite comfortable, in my non-scientific way, to tell you that if Palin were not on the ticket, we’d have a horse race here, in the ruby-reddest-flaming-lobsterized- fire-engine-colored state you can imagine.

As an Alaskan, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last two months with a metaphorical bag on my head, sinking down in my chair, but now I’m actually feeling a little proud of us. *satisfied sigh*

If the latest Palin debacles of wardrobe-gate, and travel-gate have any effect, and the race goes to a single digit spread, you’ll hear Democratic corks popping all over the state. That’s a landslide.

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