Mel’s Story

My story… after casting my absentee vote in Richmond VA, once the capital of the confederacy I’m finally ready to share it. I’m young and idealistic and full of hope and dreams and possibility. My entire life is ahead of me, at least that’s what my grandmother Sadie Bell says. Often times, my optimism and hope has been attributed to naivete; not understanding the world in which we live. At twenty-four years old, I have much to learn according my elders, and they are right. But what I believe can be learned from this campaign, this election, this moment in time… that history does not have to repeat itself. We can control our destinies, and we have much more control over our futures than we allow ourselves.

I, the idealistic youth who signed up voters and worked the polls of 2004, decided after that election that I would not invest my time in useless politics again. Already jaded by the process, I believed that a black man running for president meant another republican residency in the white house. I wasn’t convinced that people could recognize Obama’s humanity in a country where, depending on the region, racism either exists right beneath the surface or for everyone to see.

I was completely depressed that a trap was set to have Independents like myself make a choice between a black man or McCain. I believed it didn’t matter how intelligent Obama was, or what his policies were, America was not ready for an African American president. And I ignorantly, thought that my knowledge of the world, acquired within the last twenty four years, proved that we were doomed . Slowly my mind changed. I was filled with the lightheartedness and hopefulness of 2004. I was happy to attend the rallies and adorn my Obama shirt. I was enthusiastically pointing others toward the We Are The Ones Project. I began to participate in organizing gatherings around the debates and attend fundraising parties. I am now all signed on! I believe that we do matter, and that my vote and my efforts count, and that our country can move past the mental chains we bind ourselves with.

I don’t expect Angels to come down from the heavens. I don’t expect every problem we have to magically disappear, but Obama represents to the world that the everyday American citizen wants, a different future than what has been laid before us. I was right to be idealistic and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m naive. I indeed have a lot to learn about the world. I’m just breaking the surface. What I’m learning now is that the possibilities are endless… more than I’d ever imagined.

Melissa Jones
Los Angeles, CA

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