I'm Out There!
When I explain to people that I'm part of an anthology of young women who aspire to be president, I always add that my essay is tongue-in-cheek, not like those of all the other essayists, I chide, who really plan to run one day. Eye rolls ensue.
If this last election taught us anything, it was that a woman running for president (or vice president) will be scrutinized through the lens of gender every waking moment of her campaign--and who can compete with that? And who wants to? Lucky for us, most of my brilliant co-essayists in She's Out There! do, but I think my place will be well grounded in community organizing.
After Prop 8 passed in California, marriage started to slink into my life in a way I didn't think was possible. I, along with 11 other deeply inspired activists, started FAIR (www.faironline.org) in the aftermath of the most heartbreaking political loss of my short lifetime. FAIR nourishes the new, growing tide of activism for LGBT equality by channeling the energy of young people, uniting communities, and developing initiatives to claim our fundamental civil rights in California and beyond. I believe we're doing important long-term work here and am honored to be part of it.
I proudly identify as a fourth generation Californian. While I don't always agree with the direction we're headed in, I had always felt part of who we were as a state--until all of sudden, I didn't. I looked at my fellow Californians as people who don't believe in equality, I watched my civic leaders shrug their shoulders and walk away, and I'm waiting and waiting and waiting for a not-brave-enough supreme court to issue a decision on the basic civil rights of the people they were appointed to protect.
I'm proud of Mayor Villaraigosa, my mayor in Los Angeles, for standing so fervently with my community on this issue, but I know that the scope of his influence is limited. As I've gotten more involved in post-election campaigning, I've found that real social change happens on the streets, by the people. Hopefully we have civic leaders who are brave enough to stand with us, but our equality, on this issue and far beyond this issue, will be driven not by our mayors or governors or president, but by the community it most deeply effects. And I feel most connected to that very meaningful, very challenging, and very unrecognized work.
A lot has changed since I first sat down to pen my piece in the anthology. My politics are not the same at 25 as they were at 23, but our world isn't the same either. Our politics have to transition as our country does, and as I see more of the world I imagine my view of it will shift significantly. It's my hope that I'll reconnect with my childhood dream of elected office, that the state supreme court will overturn Prop 8, that Gavin Newsom will be elected governor, and that my faith in California will be restored. I used to believe that until that happened, I'd be sticking to the streets of California, but something tells me that these days, "community organizers" might be able to find a place in D.C....
Ray Rubin, from Los Angeles, Is an essayist in the new book She's Out There! The Next Generation of Presidential Candidates. Essays by 35 Young Women Who Aspire to Lead the Nation (LifeTime Media, Available now at B&N.com, Amazon.com and Indiebooks.com. For more information, go to www.shesoutthere.org
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