Setbacks Amidst Civil Rights Victories California voters narrowly approved a controversial proposition that bans marriage between same-sex partners. For Youth Radio's Mark Anthony Waters, the civil rights implications of both Barack Obama's win and the gay marriage ban hit close to home.
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Setbacks Amidst Civil Rights Victories

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Setbacks Amidst Civil Rights Victories

Setbacks Amidst Civil Rights Victories

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

California voters narrowly approved a controversial proposition that bans marriage between same-sex partners. For Youth Radio's Mark Anthony Waters, the civil rights implications of both Barack Obama's win and the gay marriage ban hit close to home.

Mr. MARK ANTHONY WATERS (Reporter, Youth Radio): I was watching the election results on TV at work when Obama stepped up to the podium with an American flag behind him. I turned to my colleague and said, does this mean Obama's president? Before I tell you what happened next, let me back up. While I was in the sixth grade in California's Central Valley, I had a racist teacher. I was the only black male in the whole school. She looked at me one day, and she was like, they'll elect a black man for president way before they elect a white woman, you mark my words. That always stuck with me.

So this year, when a black man and a white woman were both running for president, I was slightly hoping Clinton would win, just to prove that teacher wrong. But when I heard Obama won, I felt like I was walking on air. I felt like calling and telling her she was right. But then, not even 12 hours later, my feeling of sheer bliss was snatched away from me with the phone call from my good friend, Ray Ray(ph). She was near tears. She was like, Anthony, Prop. 8 passed. Ray Ray was talking about a statewide ballot initiative that bans same-sex marriage.

Ray Ray demanded, how could people not see this as unfair? Usually I have a good answer for everything, but this time I was just as dumbfounded as she was. America has come a long way from a time when black people couldn't even vote to now having a black president. But I should have known, it would be too good to be true for both the civil rights issues I care about most to change in the same election. One out of two is OK. But in school, 50 percent is still an F.

HANSEN: Eighteen-year-old Mark Anthony Waters is a reporter for Youth Radio, which produced his essay.

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