Student Finds Tranquility In Politics
September 17, 2004 7:40 PM
Chris Jackson hangs out at the same table inside the food court everyday. For over a year, the politically and socially active student has entertained friends by talking about upcoming fraternity socials or debating with them about his favorite topics: politics and sports.
According to Jackson, who currently interns with District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, the “table,” which is located by the Gold Coast Grill area, is his outlet for tranquility.
“It’s a great release for me and a place for me to be myself,” said Jackson, 21.
He then points to a group of friends that walks by to greet him. For over an hour, Jackson sees someone he knows from his table every 10 minutes and takes a moment to laugh with them.
“My friends aren’t really into politics like me but we do talk about it and debate sometimes,” said Jackson. “That’s why I love them,” referring to a time he and his friend, Adam Johnson, got into a debate with the Lyndon LaRouche table on 19th Avenue.
“It was a pretty good philosophical discussion about Kerry and why we should vote for their candidate instead,” said Jackson. “We got to know about their candidate a little bit more.”
For Jackson, who is originally from the East Bay but now resides five minutes from campus, politics is a very important part of his life and society in general, said Jackson.
“I just got involved with school politics. I was the Associated Students sophomore representative last year and didn’t realize a lot of what was going on in school,” said Jackson.
“I didn’t know where my student fees were going and when I was the sophomore representative, I thought, ‘Man, this is great,’” said Jackson. “I also took a class on San Francisco politics and I just knew I wanted to be involved.”
According to Jackson, he spent a day at City Hall looking for an internship and knocked on Supervisor Daly’s office. Daly, who is known for his fiery temper, had a nasty public exchange with former Mayor Willie Brown two years ago over the city’s homeless issue.
“Chris has a temper, is fiery and passionate,” said Jackson. “I knew I wanted to be Supervisor Daly’s intern because we have the same styles.”
“I knocked and knocked. Then I opened the mail slot and yelled,
Jackson was exposed to poverty at an early age.
“I went to Saint Leo the Great Elementary [School] and remember in the fifth grade, a homeless man with a ‘I’m poor’ sign by Piedmont Avenue,” said Jackson. “A man in a BMW drove up to him and told him that he had a job and that he should get one too.”
“I keep that in my heart,” said Jackson. “I can’t condemn those who sell drugs. I know some of them didn’t have the same benefits as me. I was lucky, I grew up in the suburbs and went to catholic school.”
Jackson has also been involved with Ross Mirkarimi’s campaign for District 5 supervisor for over two months and is currently taking 16 units on top of his internship and duties on the Youth Commission at City Hall. He is also has a commitment to the Iota Phi Theta fraternity, where his nickname is “Politically Incorrect.”
Nicole Derse is Mirkarmi’s campaign coordinator. According to Derse, who has known Jackson for over a year, the SF State student is very passionate about politics. “Chris is an amazing and incredible leader,” said Derse, 26. “He’s honest and tirelessly wants to change the city. He’s also courageous and works with the hardest issues, such as violence and youth employment.”
Mirkarimi, a long-time activist and member of the California Green Party, agrees with Derse. “Chris is a real joy to be politicking with.
He’s got solid grasp for making people feel empowered and a large appetite for promoting the civic good,” said Mirkarimi.
“Politics is important because it affects African-Americans,” said Jackson. “My people are dying on the streets and there’s a high rate of violence. I also can’t say this is a Bayview-Hunter’s Point problem, but a citywide problem. Everyone is hurt by it and we need citywide measures to address the quality of life.”
According to Jackson, when he has free time, he spends his Sundays with his mother in Pinole, where she currently lives and where raised him as a single parent.
“I get my hard work ethics form my mom. She’s from Arkansas and works hard. She raised me by herself,” said Jackson.
For Jackson, who is double majoring in speech communications and urban studies, his future consists of politics. On his outgoing message on his voicemail, Jackson proclaims he will be the next “mayor of San Francisco, governor of California and president of the U.S.” Until he graduates in one year, the Dallas Cowboys fan plans to return to SF State’s Associated Students to continue to root for the underdogs.
Jackson said, “The Dallas Cowboys used to win but I love them when they lose.”
“I root for the underdogs because I’m an underdog. I’m a person of color in politics and was born an underdog,” said Jackson. “The people before me worked four times hard and I have to work two times harder. That’s my mentality.”
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