2008: A Quarterly Report

Like many students that attend Howard University , Kalima Smalls chose to bring her car to D.C. to help her get around. Driving to work three to four days a week and even to New York for occasional visits home, are some of the things she does. As a resident assistant in the Bethune Annex , she often drives students around, or picks them up from any given location. Her goodwill comes at a high price in 2008.2008 stands as a year of commemorations, anniversaries and many firsts. In the world of politics, this year has been full of sex, scandals, controversy and suspense. With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both leading campaigns for the democratic nomination, this will be the first year that a minority or a woman will be chosen to represent either political party. On the republican side, John McCain has already become the oldest republican nominee at the age of 72.As a New York native, Smalls is deeply connected to a lot of the things going on in politics.”My state has a black governor, and it’s about time. There are enough of us in the state to at least have a governor who represents us,” Smalls said. “For me, 2008 is a year for change. Even though I’m an Obama supporter, my Senator (Clinton) is running for president.”Smalls is a psychology major excited about 2008 for a number of reasons. “What’s most important is that I’m graduating,” Smalls said with a smile. “Both a woman and a black man are major political contenders, and I might be getting an extra check from the government.”What Smalls isn’t excited about the year is the rising cost of everything, especially gas prices. With the amount of driving Smalls does, she fills up every week, when it used to be every two weeks. In 2006, when Smalls first brought her car to DC, the average gas price was $2.70 a gallon; now she pays $3.40 a gallon. Drivers across the nation also fuss over the increased gas prices as the price of regular unleaded gasoline across the nation averages 3.39 a gallon and even tops $4 a gallon in some states on the west coast; a ripple effect of oil crossing $100 a barrel for the first time in 2008.In 2008, the economy is expected to expand by only 0.5 percent, the smallest expansion in 17 years according to the International Monetary Fund forecast. Smalls expressed her disdain for the economy and what it’s done to her savings by changing her driving habits. Now she dedicates most of her driving to work and necessities. The residents on her floor know not to call Smalls for rides unless it is an emergency, and her trips to New York are less frequent. Aside from the impact that the year has had on economic growth, this year has also marked the fifth anniversary of the War in Iraq. Being in the District, many students have witnessed first hand the grief that the war has brought to Americans. In D.C. protestors gathered outside of the Internal Revenue Service, The Capitol Building, outside the State Department and on the National Mall. “Groups of demonstrators marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war blocked intersections along K Street between 13th and 17th Streets in Northwest.” WTOP‘s Michelle Basch reported on March 19, the fifth year anniversary. At least 100 people used their bodies and placards to block the streets around McPherson Square. Along the National Mall there was a death march, where participants wore black robes and white masks while holding up small signs of the names of soldiers or Iraqi civilians that have since died in the war.D.C. residents can recall the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq marked by the arrests of nearly thirty individuals who protested outside of the Internal Revenue Service only in month four of 2008, and there have been countless incidents that people will remember for years to come. 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and the first visit to the United States for Pope Benedict XVI who visited numerous sights in D.C. This year also happens to be a leap year and an Olympic year as well.Those that are politically savvy will appreciate the heated rivalry between two candidates running for the Democratic nomination. So far, 2008 has had an impact on everyone, ranging from issues of politics, to economics, to civil rights, to sports, and even education. For Smalls, the most important aspect of the year has been the impact that gas prices have had on her lifestyle and she, like a number of individuals, will value their dollar more in 2008 than they did in 2007.