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POST-ELECTION: History lost on some youth?

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 at 1:33 pm in politics.

STFI was flipping TV stations last night, looking for the best one for election coverage. At one point, all the major news stations had gone to commercial. That’s when I passed over “Hannah Montana” on the Disney Channel. “We can stop here,” my 11-year-old stepdaughter, Dana, said a little hopefully. Not going to happen, her dad and I explained and then launched into why this election was so important. History was in the making, we explained. Barack Obama was on the verge of becoming the first African-American elected president of the United States. “But I don’t like history,” she grumbled.

When Obama finally sealed the deal at one minute after 8 o’clock, Dana had her headphones plugged into her iPod. “Oh, did he win?” she asked. “Good.” And then she went back to her music. She did stay up to watch Obama’s speech. She listened to all of it, and — I think — seemed to grasp most of the message. Then she fell asleep as we tuned in to check out the early returns on the state propositions.

I recapped Dana’s “experience” with one of my co-workers this morning. It was as if history were lost on her, I said. Maybe that’s a good thing, he replied. And he’s right. Maybe for some of the younger generation, what happened Tuesday night seems less remarkable because it’s part of the world they expect. Dana is fortunate to be growing up in a world that is more color blind than the era in which my parents were raised. She also hasn’t had any experience with racism. She doesn’t see race, age or gender but instead a political candidate who “gives good speeches.” Is it innocence? Sure. But I’d like to think it’s about evolution, too.

Still, Dana’s reaction is not the same for all of the younger generation. Check out how a group of eighth-graders feel.

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