By Khadijah Ali-Coleman
By Khadijah Ali-Coleman
Tom Matzzie wrote an intriguing article for Huffington Post about what Obama’s win means for the United States in terms of lessons learned. On his list, he mentions how important the internet was in Obama’s success and how Obama made the political campaign “sexy”– a word I’m sure you no doubt have heard your young people use when speaking about each other, inanimate objects and just life’s happenings in general.
African-American adults will most likely mention that the election has illustrated the biggest lesson– that anything is possible if– in a country with a legacy of enslaving Black people– a Black man can eventually become head of state.
How can you as a youth worker use Barack Obama’s success as a springboard for programming that will promote positive youth development?
Here are some suggestions:
(1) If your youth program or classroom has jobs or duties that require an election for roles (i.e. Class President, Peer Leader, Snack Manager, etc), encourage your students to campaign for positions by developing a slogan that signifies what their candidacy is about. Obama’s campaign of HOPE and CHANGE have resonated even after his campaign ends.
(2) You most likely included discussion about the election in your group or classroom leading up to Obama’s win. But, it doesn’t have to end. You can keep the dialogue going by creating segments in the day called “Obama Updates”. Foster a continuous interest in politics by encouraging the youth to stay posted on decisions Obama is making from here on out. Who is he choosing for his cabinet? Why is he choosing this person over another? What is the first executive order he is overturning? What impact will this decision have on the industries affected? These discussions will foster political discourse which will hopefully spark a continued interest in political awareness and involvement.
(3) Create spaces in your group room/classroom that provoke personal reflection and dialogue that you may not necessarily moderate. Try ideas like a political corner with newspaper articles and magazine clippings for students to read at leisure or post weekly on a bulletin board questions that relate to both to a presidential decision that may impact the young person. Examples of questions can include: “If President Obama overturns the current executive order restriction on using stem cells for healing illness caused by cancer and birth defects, how will that impact my life when I’m an adult?”
For more suggestions, contact SOYA at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.