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  • Writer's pictureJulee Jonez

Politics & Tea: A Conversation on What's Wrong with American Politics

I am not a politician or political expert, but I have evolved into a politics nerd and news junkie. But as I think back, I always had a political bent.

My first foray into politics started with the 4th grade milk boycott of Miss Gable's class at Dobbs Elementary. For days we kept getting this warm milk -- and got fed up.

What did I do? I launched a petition with a classmate to get our milk right. While most of the class signed the petition, the next call to action was who would deliver it.

"I will!" my four-foot frame declared. The class cheered and off to the lunchroom I went.

As I handed it to one of the hair-netted lunch ladies, she seemed puzzled. I shared with her what it was and sashayed back to class. I knew the next day the milk would be cold.

Wrong. So we launched another petition, this time with commentary. Mine? "The milk sucks.” After our second petition, we finally got an answer.

The principal called me and my co-hart into her office and we were reprimanded.

My interest peaked again during a political science class in college. While I wish I would have paid more attention to that flutter in my heart as the course drew me in, I stayed in my major and went back to college living. However, I began to pay attention deeply to the political landscape more and more. Then when Obama came on the scene? My inner political geek grew.

I've been involved with GOTV efforts, candidate forums — and of course, political commentary in social media rants — for some time. But one woman has helped me grow in my love for political engagement.

Michele Watley.

She is the founder of Shirley's Kitchen Cabinet, a non-partisan organization committed to amplifying the voices of Black women. She is also the President of The Griot Group, a strategic communications and political advocacy consulting practice. So when she asked me to part of a panel at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, I eagerly accepted.

She's been named a 2021 Dole Fellow, hosting weekly discussions assessing the many factors that have brought us to the current state of American politics , while exploring how these factors will impact the 2022 election season. Last week the topic was, “What’s the Matter with American Politics: How Fake News, Black Women, COVID, 45, and Protests Might Shape Politics in 2022,” alongside syndicated columnist Mary Sanchez and Allison Kite of The Missouri Independent.

Check out the conversation and tune in for more from Michelle and the Dole Institute through November 3 - the day after the General Election in Kansas.

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