Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 15:00 UK

Voters' Views: Jessica Ross

Democrats are gathering for their party convention in Denver, Colorado as the election campaign shifts up a gear.

Here eight Democratic voters from across the US look ahead to the convention and reflect on the state of the party and their candidate Barack Obama.

Jessica Ross Student | Democrat

Americans are eager for change but are they ready to change the race of the leader in the White House?

Jessica Ross
Age: 23
Lives: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Student and administrative assistant
Last election voted:
In 10 words or less: Compassionate, spontaneous, opinionated, patient, idealistic, Christian, loving, frank, objective

"I am so excited about the possibility of change.

Over 40 years ago, Martin Luther King delivered his visionary speech in which he spelled out a future in which people would not be judged by the colour of their skin.

And now we have mixed-race candidate for president.

I am bi-racial, so part of me is sick of hearing people call him the "black candidate". No-one quite understands the pressure on people like me to fit in to one category.

But I do have worries about his candidacy. I'm not sure if he can win over the white working class. Pennsylvania is a state that normally votes Democrat but I cannot see voters here opting for a black candidate.

Across America, the public may be eager for 'change' but are they ready to change the race of the leader in the White House?

Will Christians still back the Republicans? I voted for George Bush at the last election partly because of peer pressure from fellow church-goers to back him.

I want Obama to clearly state what he believes in. One of the problems with his candidacy is that some people see him as a 'flip flopper'.

The party should come out of the convention with a clear policy platform. They should focus on important issues like unemployment, and home repossessions and have a clear plan to deal with Iraq."

Your comments:

Walking through America, I see that people are pressured into feeling and behaving "black" or "white" - when those crystal clear arbitrary distinctions come no where near reflecting the reality of social life in this country. In other multicultural countries like South Africa and Brazil there are more official race categories on the black-white continuum. In the end, categorisation of race is a roadblock to equality. Today is black, and tomorrow will be bi-racial, but one day he will just be a candidate with a message of hope and great oratory skills.
Miguel Villalobos, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Yes Jessica that possibility of change is what Americans and the world need. Change happens in the heart before it is proclaimed by our works. Obama and the Democrats feel it in their hearts.
Abel, Eldoret, Kenya

Well stated, sister of mine. Regardless of how "developed" and "mature" we should be in - in reality we are NOT that developed yet.
Aaron, Millersville, PA

I have been in a bi-racial relationship for the last three years of my life here in Chicago. It is a really interesting city because this is the Petri dish for the "social change" that Obama plans to capitalize on in his campaign. But Chicago is still a very segregated city. I don't think change starts with Obama McCain or any of the other cronies. At the end of the day they are all politicians. Real "change" must be a conscious choice of the individual. That manifests itself in every action you take and all the words that you communicate. Thank you for your comments Jessica.
Caleb Roche, Chicago, USA

I think the American people are mature and wise enough to know that the era for apartheid is gone and they should not judge a person by the colour of the skin but should instead vote on policies. Bad policy will ruin the image of the country even more. Look at Iraq.
Amos, Mombasa, Kenya

Dear Jessica: I know what you mean - our country does have a hard time giving up stereotypes and ethnic categorisations. It does appear that many people do agree with the Obama message, but not necessarily with the (physical) person.

Amos: yes the PERSON is mature, but PEOPLE in general are still capable of ignorance. You are right: people should not judge a person on colour but it happens - just as some Kenyans see themselves as Kikuyu or Luo first and as Kenyan second.
Justin Mingo, New York City, USA

I think we all hope that the people in America have grown past prejudice, but you only have to live in America to know it still exists. I agree with Justin when he says that "many people do agree with the Obama message, but not necessarily with the (physical) person".

It is very clear that people did not back Bush in the end. The common view is that his presidency did a lot of damage to the US. John McCain promises not to stray too much from those very policies. But some people are having an unusually difficult time deciding whether or not to support the country's first "African-American" nominee.

I think it may have been a similar situation if Hillary got the nomination as well. Once we can change our perception of what the president of the US should look like, we will be more open to vote based solely on policies rather than appearance.

Thank you all for your comments so far!
Jessica Ross, Langhorne, USA

The readers' panel has been selected from as wide a cross-section of people as possible and may not be representative of wider US public opinion.

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