Why I vote
My Mama died last month. But that story is for another day when it’s not as fresh and raw. What I do want to talk about is voting. One thing Mama showed me throughout my life was a commitment to vote.
One of my earliest memories is going with her to a building and standing beside her in a booth with a curtain at what to me was a very tall table. It was a voting booth. And I was probably 4 or 5 years old.
She wasn’t super vocal about politics but I always saw her going to vote. That said to me it was an important thing to do. My parents grew up during segregation in the United States. My father lived in the Jim Crow-loving part of America known as the South; my mother in New York the most diverse, but somewhat still segregated, city in the nation.
Growing up I watched the evening news, 60 Minutes, and read the newspaper with my parents. So I voted as soon as I was eligible. I can’t claim to be consistent. But I’ve voted more often than not even as I moved from state to state.
Exercising your right to vote is something everyone around the world doesn’t have. Some have it but can only vote for sham candidates who rig elections or use the military to keep themselves in office. For Black Americans the right to vote is even more important. Because there are still people in power in government at the local, state and federal levels who would love to see every hard fought for civil right be taken away from Black people. Unfortunately, some of the people we fought for to enjoy those same rights are turning their backs on Blacks and supporting people who would be happy to see other non-white citizens and women without equal rights again too.
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”Rush
There’s a lyric from the song Freewill by Rush that has always stuck in my head:
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears, and kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose free will.
Yes, it’s a free country and you have the choice to not vote. But when you make that choice you leave the door open for already bad conditions to never change for the better. You leave the door open for fascism, dictators, autocrats, tyrants — people who don’t have your best interests or your family, friends, and neighbors best interests at heart. Politicians who try to scare you with phantom fears based in hate, religious fanaticism, and greed are hoping you don’t vote.
Not voting means you’ve made a choice to allow a democratic society to fall into the hands of people who don’t want you to have power, a voice, and a better quality of life for everyone, not just for some.
If you haven’t already voted by absentee ballot, vote early or on November 8. It’s your right and your responsibility to your fellow citizens who deserve the freedom and equal rights a true democracy promises.