Many locals converged at the Metaphor Club and L.A. Alpha House to watch and discuss the Democratic debates.
By Megan Reed
Keeping up with the 25 Democratic presidential candidates can be a daunting task, so many locals are getting together to watch the televised debates.
For the first round of debates, which took place in June, there were debate watch events at the Metaphor Club in Leimert Park and at the L.A. Alpha House in View Park. Many people cheered for points that they agreed with, and expressed their displeasure with points that they did not approve of. It was somewhat like watching a sporting event.
“One of the dynamics of bringing Black folks together is that we talk to the screen and that’s cool,” said Lawrence Ross, co-owner of the Metaphor Club. “We express ourselves. We recognize that not only are we going to have the important issues, but there’s also something about the fun part of deconstructing the candidates.”
While people can find some entertainment value in rooting for the candidates they like and heckling the candidates that they do not like, the purpose of the debate watch events and other gatherings based around politics is to keep people engaged.
“One of the things that we want to do in this community is to be politically active,” Ross said. “It’s important for people to have a place where they can commune, talk about some of the issues, and watch political events. It’s going to be very important in this particular climate to get out Donald Trump; a person who is anti-Black and anti-immigrant. It’s also important to be politically active on a regular basis. The way to do that is to move away from just doing Facebook posts of outrage. And the way to do that is to come together and figure out how we can work together.”
The debate watch event at the Metaphor Club was in partnership with the Black L.A. Young Democrats, UCLA Black Alumni Association, and the U.C. Berkeley Black Alumni Association.
The debate watch event at the L.A. Alpha House was hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Beta Psi Lambda Chapter (Los Angeles), as part of the fraternity’s A Voteless People is a Hopeless People (VPHP) national program.
“The Alpha House is that ‘safe space’ that is open to the community to hear from candidates seeking elected positions from the presidency to local mayoral races,” said Derek Hull, chair of the chapter’s VPHP committee.
In the past, Beta Psi Lambda Chapter has held political events that featured Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Former CA State Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, former CA State Assemblyman Isadore Hall, CA State Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, and Gardena Councilman Mark E. Henderson (who is a member of Beta Psi Lambda Chapter).
“Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has always been on the forefront of addressing political issues in the United States and abroad,” Hull said. “While the fraternity is not affiliated with any political party and does not endorse a particular candidate, our values and support are strongly aligned with those candidates who seek fair and equitable access in the areas of housing, commerce, education and transportation, and civil liberties for all people, particularly for people of color.”
The Metaphor Club will hold watch events for the debates on July 30 and 31, and they will each host political events throughout the year.