Please Vote. Period.
The other day, my mother (who is an art professor) said something quite impactful to me over dinner. She said:
“When election time comes, I’m going to excuse my students from class and make them bring me a sticker that says ‘I Voted’ to count it as their attendance instead.”
I knew that my mother’s action, though small, would make a difference in some way. And now, here I am asking all of you to do it too. Go vote, people!
I wanted to take the time this week and truly encourage each and every one of you to vote (if you are able to). Perhaps this seems like an obvious thing to ask for, but for some people, it’s not a given. Voter discrimination, though combated in 1965 after the Voting Rights Act “dismantle[d] state-level measures that made it very difficult or even impossible for African Americans to vote,” is still very much a thing.
In a fact-sheet produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the data shows that there is a multitude of voting restrictions that make it much harder for people to vote—more specifically: black people. Here are some statistics I’ve pulled from the fact-sheet:
“Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting. These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.”
“Minority voters disproportionately lack ID. Nationally, up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of whites.”
“Voter ID laws are enforced in a discriminatory manner. A Caltech/MIT study found that minority voters are more frequently questioned about ID than are white voters.”
These facts are important to keep in mind in terms of voter registration, but they also act as a reminder that voting is often times taken for granted. We must remember that the right to vote did not come to us freely, rather it was fought over for years. I know this, you know this, there’s no reason for me to get on my soapbox about the Civil Rights Movement. So then, the question becomes: why am I still writing this?
Unfortunately, voter turnout is an issue, even among black voters. An article by PBS says that “black and Latino minorities did not turn out like they had for Obama and women did not show up for Clinton to the extent that many had predicted.” Understandably, Clinton lacked the same motivation to vote that Obama brought to voters in 2008. However, we cannot succumb to these excuses. A candidate’s job is to prove why they should be elected. Yet, it is our responsibility as a people to choose the person to suit our interests. If we aren’t doing our part, we can’t expect them to do theirs. That’s the whole point of our democratic system.
The power is in our hands. Black women are a driving force come election season for many reasons. We are the only ones we can count on. In an op-ed from The New York Times, author Alexis Grenell says:
“Women of color, and specifically black women, make the margin of difference for Democrats. The voting patterns of white women and white men mirror each other much more closely, and they tend to cast their ballots for Republicans. The gender gap in politics is really a color line.”
Grenell’s words are a reminder that we must look out for our best interest, and the only way to do that is to be involved in our political system. Let us all value the right that has been so graciously handed to us by our ancestors. No excuses. End of story. Period.
Here’s a link to an article by The New York Times documenting each of the candidates running for president in 2020 (A good starting point). Information regarding your specific state’s voting laws is available online.