Lately, I haven’t posted anything politics related. So, I decided that today I would share the events in my life that made me interested in politics. There are a lot of political events I could site as inspiring, but I wanted to actually write about events that I have personally been through instead of something I’ve read in a textbook.
First I’ll have to say that I lucked out and had a great English teacher in eighth grade. She assigned the two books–Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm, both showed me how much government decisions can actually or potentially affect daily life. Before these books, lawmakers were a concept far away in my mind, and they didn’t need any attention. 12-13 years old was my first political awakening.
Around the same time, I was taking karate and competing on a local and national level. My mom and I were trying to find a coach that would help me do better in sparring, and everyone we talked to recommended the same coach. Needless to say, my mother came back to me and said he just wasn’t going to work. After a month of endless asking, my mom broke down and told me that he didn’t want to train girls. I was shocked, I knew I was a decent fighter and I had trained with a good number of the boys he was training at the time. It was so weird to me that I couldn’t train because of something I couldn’t help. After this I was on the internet researching other incidents similar to this, I needed to know if other girls experienced this, and I honestly I found way too many results…in my opinion, this was my introduction to gender and sexuality studies.
My next and probably biggest draw to politics came from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the whole country got to see what a mess Louisiana is/was. I saw my friends’ neighborhoods flooded due to levee failures. I was glued to the TV waiting for local officials to tell me when I could go home, and when I got home there was a curfew in place. Racial disparities that were never talked about were finally exposed. Let’s just say the government was way more involved in my life during that year than I ever expected.
The last event I’ll mention took place after I declared my major as political science, but this definitely cemented my decision. During my semester abroad in Argentina, I accidentally took part in a protest, and yes I mean accidentally. Within my first week in Buenos Aires my host family asked if I wanted to go with them somewhere…I kinda missed the “where” part (my Spanish wasn’t so great at this point), but I just went along anyway. We walked about two blocks and my family was talking to a bunch of other people that they seem to know. Then all of a sudden everyone is pulling pots and pans out of their purses and backpacks, and my host brother is wrapping an Argentine flag around himself. I get thrown a pot and spoon and get told to make noise. Apparently my family was very upset with a speech made by the president earlier in the week. It hit me that I had never participated in a protest, in the U.S. the idea of marching and protesting had seemed extreme, but in Argentina this was a normal Tuesday afternoon. This little protest showed me that I could get involved back home whether it was something big or small, and being upset with my government and saying something about it was not necessarily an extreme act…you just need to make a little noise.
These aren’t all the events that turned me to political science, but these are just the big ones that stand out in my memory. What personal events turned your interest to or from politics?