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This brief holiday weekend has allowed me to catch up on some shows that have been sitting on my DVR for a while. I must admit that I watched some mindless material before getting to recordings with some substance. As I sat here watching CNN’s “Black in America: The New Promised Land- Silicon Valley” I was brought back to thoughts I have had a number of times in recent years about preparing Black folks and other underrepresented minority groups for the political arena. We need organized and systematic programs to accelerate the learning curve in politics and make access easier to come by for young people of color with drive, ambition and ideas.
Politics aggravates a lot of people. Politics confuses a lot of people. And because of this, politics disaffects a lot of people. According to a May 21, 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press,
More than three-quarters (76%) agree that “elected officials in Washington lose touch with the people pretty quickly.” More than half (51%) agree that “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does.”
This condition, clearly, is most troubling for a political system and a larger political culture committed (at least in theory) to a democracy grounded in the active participation of citizens. We find ourselves in an irksome paradox: the shape of our politics can’t improve without active citizen involvement, but active citizen involvement is depressed to a large extent due to the state of our politics. What to do? The Political Denizens believe that informed discourse on our public life is a crucial piece to this puzzle.