If Only My Kids Thought Politics Were as Exciting as Beyoncé or Pharrell
Were you ever class president of your school? Did you ever see yourself making it from student body president to the White House? I can remember that it was cooler to be a cheerleader or play sports more than it was to be a part of student council. Only ‘nerds’ or very popular people went around school asking for votes. From time to time a few of my African American friends would decide to run for a spot on student council, even asking my friends and I to join. We had no problem voting for them, we just didn’t see the need in signing up. When it comes time for the kiddos to think about a career, I definitely want to not only introduce them to politics as an option but share African Americans from the past and present who made a successful career in politics. Sadly, there are not a lot of examples.
- Before the election of U.S. Senator Cory Booker only three states have elected blacks to the U.S. Senate in American history (Illinois, Massachusetts, and Mississippi) and just two states since Reconstruction.
Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, became only the ninth African American appointed or elected to the U.S. Senate
Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) The first and only black woman elected to the Senate
- African Americans control just two percent of the seats in the Senate despite the fact that close to thirteen percent of the country is black.
- African-Americans have gradually increased their numbers in the U.S. House, and now hold 10 percent of seats in the chamber while making up 13 percent of the population.
Suggestions for Sparking Interest in Politics:
Have your little one think about rules.
- What is fair?
- Who should be able to make rules?
- Introduce pictures of the President and the White House
- Introduce Congress as rule makers
- Time to change Congress? Activity (by Scholastic)
- Help explain and discuss the 3 branches of government – Do they really believe the power is balanced???
- Help explain and discuss the difference between the House and Senate
Tween and Teen:
- Encourage your child to run for a spot in the student council. If they do not succeed the first year. Tell them to try again, plenty of politicians didn’t make it the first go round
- Look for internships or mentoring at your local statehouse
- Discuss the latest issues in the news – Ask them what they would do if they had the power or if they were in charge.