What Does Voting Mean to You?

In honor of Willie Velasquez and others like him who have fought so hard to earn us the right to vote, I’m asking you to think about what it means to you personally to have that power, that privilege to vote your conscience.

Think about it and let me know. Leave a comment here or better yet, write your own blog post about what voting means to you, and I’ll add a link to your page here. I’ll also tweet it. Heck, I’ll share it with Latino Public Broadcasting, which co-produced the Willie Velasquez documentary and maybe they’ll tweet it, too. Continue reading

The Race 2012 Blogging Project Begins

Race was an issue during the Civil Rights era. Is it still an issue today?

If you ask me, with 40 days left to the election, the best reality show around just kicked it up a notch.

I’m talking, of course, about the 2012 run for the presidency. I mean, just think about it. There’s enough drama here—machinations,  angst, he said/he said accusations, secret tapes, backstabbing, blunders, greed, politicos being thrown under the bus, backroom meetings, not to mention out-and-out brawls—to spice up at least a dozen reality shows.

And, while everyone’s wondering who’ll end up with the rose, or be thrown off the island–there can only be one president, after all–the real question to consider, is:

Is race a factor in this year’s election?

On the surface, this may seem like a yes or no question, but, really, it’s one that begs an explanation. Closer examination, if you will. And the answer, no doubt, will be influenced by your race, your religion or lack thereof, your class, and other key markers that make you, well, you.

For, these factors form the prism through which you see the world, including politics. And, there is no one way to answer this question. There are countless ways.

I have voted in nine presidential elections. This upcoming one will be my tenth. And, while the question of race didn’t really occur to me the first eight times I voted, I started thinking about it in the 2008 election when, for the first time, we had an African-American presidential candidate running for office. And, it’s an issue that continues to pervade my thoughts today.

Which is why, I’m pleased to launch the Race 2012 blogging project.  From now through the election season, Race 2012 bloggers will be posting about this very subject. And, all the views conveyed in their posts are, most definitely and unequivocally, their own. But, they’ll be speaking from the heart and sharing their personal feelings about race and the election.

Some of the bloggers have already posted, and I am including links to their posts on the new Race 2012 page, which I’ve set up right here on this site.  Please visit the page and keep coming back to check for updates.  I encourage you to read these posts and then add your own comment, for we want you to be part of the  conversation.

If you’re interested in blogging with our team, just let me know and I’ll send you some information.

The Race 2012 blogging project is conducted in conjunction with a new PBS documentary, Race 2012: A Conversation About Race & Politics in America. This one-hour election special, which airs Tuesday, October 16 (please check your local listings), uses the presidential election as a lens through which to examine America’s increasingly complex racial landscape.

Race 2012 navigates the high-stakes world of racial pollsters, strategists, spin doctors and candidates as they compete for voters of many ethnic and racial groups. The election will serve as an important indicator of the role race will play in our nation’s political future. How will today’s immigrants shape our electoral landscape? What effect will the economic differences have on America’s political future? Race 2012 offers a fresh view of the shifts that are transforming our nation.

I, for one, am looking forward to having a thought-provoking exchange of ideas and beliefs. And, who knows? Maybe, together, we can get to the bottom of this, and thus solve all our economic and social problems in one fell swoop.

Too much to hope for? Perhaps. But, keeping the conversation going is a good place to start. Your thoughts?

The Race is On


Have you heard? It’s election time in America.  A year of campaigning, grandstanding, hand-shaking, politicking, debating, mud-slinging and flag-pin wearing. A year filled with super-PACs, soapboxes, and the good ol’ red, white and blue.

Yes, once again we are voting for who will be our next president. It’s the right of all citizens to fill out a ballot and cast a vote. A right that is supposed to level the playing field, no matter what our path was to citizenship.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, not everyone votes. And that’s their right, I suppose.  Which is ironic, when you consider that there are countries where voting is not allowed, and where I’m pretty sure, many folks would give their eyeteeth for the right and privilege to cast a ballot.

As we have.

Perhaps some of us just don’t feel a strong desire to have a hand in picking the next president. Or senator, governor, or even, mayor. Maybe, we figure, others will do it for us, so that we can go about the business of living our lives and shopping at the mall.

Well, that’s never been the case in my family. From the time I first became aware that I was born in a country that has a president, I learned about our inalienable right to vote.

Back then, my mother wasn’t a citizen yet, but my father had already become one.  As a Latino, he was proud of his U.S. citizenship. For him, this was the land of opportunity, a place that gave him the chance to earn a college degree, and build a better life for his children. He always made sure he voted and, by his actions, he instilled in us the desire to be actively involved in the voting process.

It’s election time in America. What does Race 2012 mean to you?

I remember the political discussions my parents would have. They’d read the newspaper, and watch the news with Walter Cronkite, and then add their own two cents to the day’s issues. Sometimes, my father would yell at the TV, but I think that was mostly during the Watergate hearings.

When my mother became a citizen, she couldn’t wait for her chance to vote, too. The night before Election Day, she’d review the ballot measures, look at the pros and cons of each candidate, and create her “voting list” to take into the voting booth.

When I turned 16, I volunteered for my first presidential campaign. My friends and I were bussed from Long Island, across the state line to New Jersey, and deposited in a neighborhood, where we spent the day going door to door, asking people to get out and vote. Some listened politely; others didn’t give us the time of day.

And that was their right.

For my generation, 18 was a magical year. The year we became adults and were legally allowed to drink. But, when I turned 18, I remember just being excited about finally getting my chance to vote. And, I have voted in every election since. Nowadays, I don’t even go to the polls. I just mail in my ballot. But, I do miss getting the flag sticker that is given out at polling places, the one you can put on your lapel to show that you voted.

In most states, the deadline to register to vote is sometime in October. You can check here to find out the deadline for your state. If you haven’t yet done so, I hope you’ll take the time to register. After all, your vote counts as much as mine does. No matter where we come from, no matter what our race, religion or sex, our votes do matter.

Starting in October, I’m launching a blogging project to coincide with a new PBS documentary by the same name:  Race 2012. It’s about race and the election and what it means for each of us.  If you’re interested and would like to participate, sharing your personal story, photos, art, or editorial cartoons, then drop me a line at monicastangledweb@gmail.com, and I’ll send you information.  To those of you who have already signed on, thank you!

Yep, it’s about time for Race 2012, and together we can make a difference. Please feel free to tweet this and share with other bloggers. Then, I hope you’ll share below, your feelings and memories of voting.


Voting Time in America

Apparently, my vote counts.  In a BIG way.  To look at my inbox these days, you would think that I alone am going to be the deciding vote on just about everything in Tuesday’s election. So look out, fellow Americans, I’m carrying a lot of clout, if you ask me.

Here’s how I know:  I’m getting at least 100 emails everyday telling me whom I should vote for and whom I should vote against.  Not to mention, where I should stand on the countless propositions on this year’s ballot.  Of course, this doesn’t include the barrage of telephone and text messages, as well as postcards I’m receiving daily.  So, is it just me, or is this election the biggest of the century—the only one that truly matters?

Not a recent photo, but this is how I picture him looking when he calls me about voting.

It seems a lot is riding on it and frankly, it’s got me stressed.  The 24-hour news cycle has whipped me into a frenzy. I’m pacing the hallways of my little home, wondering frantically what will the outcome be?  Which party is going to take the house? Which will control the senate? Inquiring minds want to know and cannot wait until Tuesday night to learn the answer.  That is really unfair, if you ask me.  I’m not the kind of person that likes to wait. “Impatient” should have been my middle name and, to all the pundits out there, you know what I’m talking about.

You know you guys can’t wait either. Every pundit has a prediction about the outcome of the election and each prediction has been different from the next.  So which one should I believe?  Who is credible and who indeed knows best?  This is almost as intense as predicting who’ll take home the Oscar.  (Colin Firth, I’m betting on you!)

And it’s not just the emails that have me in a tizzy. I’m also getting phone messages from none other than Robert Redford himself, which has me spinning out of control.  Mr. Redford wants me to vote “No” on something.  But I’m not falling for it. Nope. I’m not impressed.  It’s a recorded message after all.

Now, if Mr. Redford called to personally speak to me, I would let him fill out my ballot for me.  He’d have carte blanche.  I’d invite him over for dinner and he could tell me exactly who and what I should vote for, and what I should think, for that matter. It’s those blue eyes and come hither looks. Yes, I’m a sucker for the Sundance Kid. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and write him in as a candidate for governor and senator.  He’s bound to win with my vote.

And if all the emails and phone calls weren’t enough to stress me out,there’s all the political ads that make me feel like I’m watching a train wreck or worse, a reality show, like “Fear Factor.”  The way these politicians crawl all over each other, you’d think they were competing to win a million bucks, not a thankless political job.  In these ads, candidates says scathing things about their opponents and if I were to believe everything they say, well then we have some pretty awful people running for office, if you ask me.  The worst of the worst, bottom of the barrel folks.

Well, the election will be over in less than 48 hours.  At which time, I will no longer be Ms. Popular. My clout will be gone. Zippo. My email inbox will once again look deflated and woefully lonely, and my phone will stop ringing off the hook. I’ll probably never hear from Robert Redford again. Sigh.

At least I have the next few hours to look forward to more emails, calls and the like.  Until then, just do me a favor: don’t tell these folks I already voted.  Psst, I mailed in my ballot weeks ago.  After all, I’m too impatient to wait for Election Day to vote!  How about you, have you voted?  Well, if you haven’t, snap to it!