Tracy and Josh on Fighting for D.C.
||People's District blog
||Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Tracy – “I have deep roots in this city. My Mom, who is ethnically Chinese, came here as a refugee from Vietnam. She always grew up feeling like she didn’t have a home, and yearned for a place where she belonged. She met my Dad, who was from a small town in Massachusetts, and they ended up here. It is that need to belong and a love of small towns that have kept me here for so long.
“While I love it here, this can be a tough place for many people. In high school, I started getting involved with some of the pressing social issues of the city, mainly hunger and housing, and soon realized that they were largely rooted in structural problems. The more you look, the more you see that our weak governance structure and lack of full representation means that these problems can’t be fully resolved. Worse still is that we have internalized the political structure that oppresses us, and adopted a mentality of being oppressed. As such, many of the people and politicians here lack the initiative to fight for D.C. We have been beaten to the point that we feel we lack the power and can’t stand up for ourselves.
Josh – “I used to work in the Maryland State Legislature, and people there felt like they could progress up the ladder and aspire to be a congressman, governor, or senator. Here, the highest level of office that a kid born in D.C. can aspire to is mayor or the dizzying heights of being on the D.C. Council or an At-Large Shadow Senator. To me, it seems like anyone with an ounce of political ambition, would leave D.C. for Maryland or Virginia to pursue a political career that can have both a local and national impact.
“What’s sad about this is how few people in America seem to know about our situation. Some people who do are rather dismissive of D.C. voting rights. I remember very vivid conversations with people who still feel like we don’t deserve full representation because of Marion Barry, and his legacy here. They tell me that we had a chance, and we blew it. I argue that saying that is similar to the age-old arguments used by the enfranchised against disenfranchised groups like women and African-Americans.”
Tracy – “Despite how isolatng it can feel to live in this city, I have a lot of hope. I believe in the principles that this country was founded on. While it is enshrined in the Constitution that D.C. should not have the vote, women and African-Americans were also excluded from voting in the Constitution. I feel like our cause is equally just. I believe that if people around the country knew that there are 600,000 Americans living in this country without voting rights, things would change. We have made progress in the past like gaining the ability to vote for president, so we know that change is possible.”
Josh – “I have that same hope, but I am less optimistic that we will get full voting rights. My job will remain to live here and show people how good a citizen I can be. We need to change the impression that this city remains defined by its negative legacy. We should all be ambassadors.
Tracy – “For me, I am angry about our situation, but my work for statehood is defined more from a place of love. I couldn’t do this if I didn’t love the people here and this place. We need to fight for recognition, but we should also be patient. Many transients will choose to check out of the issue and many natives argue that we should just secede. I don’t believe that we should sit quietly or try to tear things down to bring ourselves up. I’ve seen that work unsuccessfully in D.C. for too long, and I want something more transcendent.”
Tracy Loh, is an outspoken supporter of D.C. rights and a member of the “DC 72.” Josh, a lawyer and member of the Virginia National Reserves, just recently returned from a tour of Iraq. Both D.C. residents, they lack full voting representation in Congress, as do the other 601,721 residents of the District.
Take action to bring D.C. a vote by supporting DC Vote.