Monday, January 21, 2008
Race or gender: how would you decide?

Randi Kaye
360 Correspondent

At Anjay's Salon in Charleston, the only thing louder than the hair dryer is the chorus of political opinions.

On this day, owner Angela Jackson is outnumbered. She is the only one supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton over Sen. Barack Obama in South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday.

"When you apply for a job, they ask you, do you have experience? They hire you based on experience. Hillary's been in office how long?" Jackson asks.

Customer Carol Singleton responds, "For me, Hillary, yes, she was a wife of a president, but she was not a president, so she doesn't earn credit for more experience than Obama. To me they're equal."

Stylist Shanese Jones says, "I just feel like it's his time. I think he's ready."

Black women this year never have been more engaged in a political campaign or held such power in determining the Democratic nominee.

Recent polls show black women are expected to make up more than a third of all Democratic voters in South Carolina's primary in five days.

For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?

Click here for full story

CNN readers respond angrily to 'race or gender' story
Posted By CNNBLOG: 2:23 PM ET

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that you don't vote based on race or gender. The whole idea is to vote for the candidate that you believe to be best qualified to be the president of this country.

I realized that people may be influenced by their own bias and preference, but the bottom line is that you vote for the person who can do the best job. Maybe if we adhered to that, then we just might get someone who is able to resolve the serious problems we face.

I support Hillary Clinton, not merely because she is a woman, but because I believe that she is the best qualified Democratic candidate for president. I don't think that people should vote for Obama because he is black.

It's thinking like this that gets us into trouble. It may be asking a lot to put aside a person's race or gender, but I think it's imperative that we do precisely that.
Posted By Anonymous Mindy Chatsworth, Ca. : 2:41 PM ET
No one should vote on any candidate by their race or gender. They should be looking at their stance on the issues and their past record. Implying anything else is ludicrous.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 2:45 PM ET
I'm a white woman voting for Obama. I didn't go with my race or gender. I'm going with a decent man I can believe in.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Andover, KS : 2:47 PM ET
I was under the perhaps mistaken impression, that Martin Luther King's dream was that we would all be judged by the content of our character. I am a Black Woman who is supporting Barack Obama, not because he is Black, but because he is inspirational, intelligent, and has enough experience to become president of this country. We share many, not all, of the same opinions on the issues. I have been inspired by his platform and I believe he is the future.

I can feel my own attitudes changing toward those of other parties with whom I may not agree. I can feel the change in my level of tolerance for the point of view of others and my willingness to listen to them. I want the unity I believe Barack Obama can achieve. I share his hope and believe in his dream. He is leading by word and example.

I would like all the candidates to compete on the merits. I don't like "dirty" tactics. I don't like misleading and false statements about others with whom you don't agree. We have lived with this type of animosity for 15 years, or more.

Some say that's "just the way the political game is played". Well, the point many of us are trying to make is that we are sick to death of that game. We want a new direction. We don't want the type of divisiveness created by campaign "tactics" designed to undermine the positive aspects of our Democratic messages. If this continues, I believe our party will be irrevocably damaged.

Because politics and religion are such sensitive, emotional topics, it is always good to provide the best information possible. When you have a platform such as the view, it is doubly important, since your words reach so many people. If you don't know exactly what a candidate said, it is not difficult to find out. It is better to use the candidates words than to paraphrase based on your own biases.

We all want what is best for the country. In order to achieve that end, we must conduct ourselves with dignity. The world is watching.

zekke lydonna
Posted By Blogger Zekke LyDonna : 2:50 PM ET
This article demonstrates how shallow and simple-minded the American public has become. Aren't we supposed to judge people by the content of their character? Shouldn't we vote for a candidate based on how we feel that person will perform? This is not a popularity contest! Why is nobody talking about the real issues?
Posted By Anonymous Spencer : 2:52 PM ET
It sickens me that people will actually vote for a person based primarily on race or gender. Here's an idea! How about voting for the best canidate? Women will vote for hillary and blacks for Obama. Im not saying they will not be good canidates,but to choose just because their black or a women is insane. It's really no wonder why this country is going to hell in a hand basket.
Posted By Anonymous dbaker : 2:57 PM ET
I understand the importance and significance of having either a black president or a female president, but it seems to me that most people are focusing only on that- as though these candidates are novelties.

How about we focus on what they can do for us and not the color of their skin or what's underneath their clothes???
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne Sando : 3:03 PM ET
Vote your race or vote your gender? Are we no longer concerned with voting for values? I imagine Dr. King will roll in his grave if the idea of voting our values never enters the arena in the SC democratic primary.
Posted By Anonymous Wes, Kennesaw, Georgia : 3:12 PM ET
Why can't they just vote their Nationality? Is their only option to vote based on their Race or Gender? Wow, I was unaware that our nation was still so segregated that african-american women aren't allowed to vote for a white male.
Posted By Anonymous republicoftx : 3:17 PM ET
You must be kidding me! I would hate to believe that one assumes that black women are so ignorant and so unconcerned about their right to vote that they'd cast a ballot based solely upon race or gender.

Perhaps there are many out there who do recklessly attempt to elect others who are like them. However, I believe that the majority of people, including black women, are intelligent enough to vote on the basis of aptitude, not sex or race.

This is especially disheartening coming just a day after the great moral leader Martin Luther King's national holiday.

Should he be living today, I'm certain you'd hear from him the benefits each candidate would bring to the office and nothing of their sex or race.

Mathew R. Palmer
Atlanta, Georgia
Posted By Anonymous Mathew Palmer : 3:21 PM ET
Every voting American has a tough choice, certainly, but not because of race or gender. The African-American woman deserves more credit than that. She is wise enough to vote for the person whose views and convictions best align with her own. Why reduce her options to "black" or "female"? I find it interesting that this article should appear on the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He lived and died working to put an end to such limits and stereotypes.
Posted By Anonymous Lori (Dover, DE) : 3:36 PM ET
Hi Randi,
My didn't you stir up a hornet's nest by asking if we are voting race or gender!
I think you have a GREAT sense of humor.
I believe the point however is; the fact that we have a black man and a woman who for the first time in history have a chance of being the next president of the United States.
This is quite a historical election.
I hope everyone selects and VOTES for the person he/she feels is the best candidate for the position.
In my opinion it will be a black man or a woman!!! ;-)

Betty Ann
Posted By Blogger Betty Ann : 3:37 PM ET
This story does not give black women much credit. I think that it is a bit simple to assume that they have to vote for one of the two without attention to the issues. As a white man, am I only allowed to vote for white men for president or should I research the issues?
Posted By Anonymous James, Orlando FL : 3:44 PM ET
I am a woman and I don't plan on voting for Hillary. I think people are putting too much on the race/gender issue. Why can we vote on their views on important issues?
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 4:51 PM ET
It use to be Republican or Democrate, now it's race or gender.

When my grandfathers were living, they would have never even concidered voting outside their party. I can't imagine that they would have voted outside their race or gender.

During my voting years I never felt it was right to vote strictly based on your party affiliation, so I never have. When I determine which candidate I will support I make that determination based on where they stand on the issues and how that stance meshes with my own opinions and values.

As to the questions of race or gender, I guess I'd say neither. As far as I'm concerned, politics should be color AND gender blind.

Surprise, AZ
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 7:12 PM ET
Why judge on race or gender? Why not judge on experience?
Posted By Anonymous ali - orem, ut. : 10:00 PM ET
Why is Obama running as a black person thus playing the race card when I read he is 1/2 black (his father was from Kenya) and 1/2 Hawiian (his mother)? He is not a full black person. Hillary is 100% woman and Edwards is definately from the south which is evident in his accent. I think people should take into consideration that Obama is not going to be the 1st black candidate because he is only half black. No, sex, gender, regional upbringing or even religion should paly into politics. We should vote on the topics, the issues, the track records of the candidates. But to represent himself as a black person is a misrepresentation in my view.

Diane Wilkes-Barre area of PA.
Posted By Anonymous mrsnshick : 11:12 PM ET
Only the media is making this about race and gender. Honestly I'm tired of it. I am voting Obama not because of race but because he is the best person for the job!
Posted By Blogger Kim : 11:55 PM ET
I don't think they should vote based on race or gender. Vote for the best candidate to do the job.

Listen to each of them and choose based on issues not exterior qualities.

But people don't always vote logically.
Posted By Anonymous Sabrina in Los Angeles : 12:13 AM ET
Hi Randi,
Thank you for providing dialogue on the important issue of race. You and are doing an excellent job in bringing this important issue to the forefront. is certainly doing more on the issue of race than the politicians in Washington-DC that's for sure. Thanks for caring!!
Posted By Anonymous Annette, Richmond Heights MO : 2:03 PM ET
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