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The topics have already been revealed for the final presidential debate to be held October 19th, but that didn't stop the co-hosts of Counter Stories from offering their ideas for questions they want to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Luz Maria Frias said she would ask about voting rights, while Don Eubanks would focus on how the candidates would address emotional responses, namely by white America, to demographic changes. Hlee Lee wants to know more about how they'd address both the rape culture in the country and the normalization of braggadocio around sexual assault, as seen in the fallout from the 2005 video of Donald Trump released just before the second debate. Tom Weber said he'd ask whether each candidate supports the Dakota Access Pipeline.
• Counter Stories: On Being at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp
Anthony Galloway's question captured a major theme underlying the entire Counter Stories conversation, recorded Wednesday afternoon. "Do the candidates," he asked, "have the ability to articulate the experiences of communities of color from their perspective?"
Noting the answer would be different depending on the community, and that "people of color" can't be lumped into a monolithic group, his goal would be to have the two white candidates name, based on their introspection and experience, what any given community would articulate as their highest concern.
A good or bad answer could also reveal "who's in your informing group, or who's not," Galloway said.
"Nobody caters to us," Eubanks added, noting special reference to the Native American community. While that fact doesn't appear to have dampened interest in voting this year in Indian country, "What I still don't hear are debates," he said. "That's what's lacking."
Lee echoed Eubanks. Asians and Native Americans, she said, are viewed as the "less important" communities of color in this election, as they were in 2012. From her perspective, when community concerns are singled out, it tends to be about the Latino community and the Black community.
While acknowledging there is more of an effort to address Latino communities, Maria Frias pointed out that "one of the biggest criticisms within communities of color for candidates" is that the candidates don't pay attention until an election comes around.
Absent election time, "there isn't a presence; there isn't relationship building; there isn't anything like that," Maria Frias added. "It's easy to feel like they're being used because it's only a matter of convenience when their voice matters."
A critical step toward making such voices matter on a permanent, rather than quadrennial, basis has to come from those in power or seeking it. It can begin, as Galloway said, by thinking beyond one's own experiences. Thus, his question for the presidential candidates.
These topics, by the way, are not on tap for that final debate. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News announced this week he'll focus on "debt and entitlement, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates' fitness to be president," according to a news release from the Commission on Presidential Debates.
To hear the full discussion use the audio player above.