Thursday, September 6, 2012

This is Why I Vote

As a child sitting in history classes I was always moved to tears watching the plight of my ancestors.  They came up from slavery to fight for our right to vote and so that we could live equally amongst our white counterparts.  Seeing people who were scared of their futures but strong enough in their convictions to stand up in the face adversity and brave cruelty in the right of justice, those are some powerful images.  The Civil Rights Movement alone inspired me to minor in African-American Studies in college.  And it was my African-American Studies that convinced me that I could play a part in changing the world as my ancestors did. This is why I vote.  

I vote because not too long ago I wouldn't have been able to vote.  I vote because despite what people tell you,I know that my vote makes a difference.  I vote because I am not going to let other people who I do not trust make decisions that will not only effect me but effect generations to come.

Ever since I saw the movie Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in my 9th grade civics class I wanted to become the first African-American  female President of the United States.  I was always convinced that we would have a black president one day, and then four years ago we had one.  I was luckily enough to be with hundreds of others celebrating on the historic U St. in Washington, DC.  It was truly a magical night.  While politics has left me disheartened and I don't foresee a presidency in my future, I still love the political season and eagerly await voting in each primary and general election.

After all of this, there was still so many people not registered to vote.  And even worse, there are people that are registered to vote who choose not to vote.  Why?

I don't care who you vote for.  Well let me rephrase, I do care because I think there is only one choice, but as long as you did your research and can justify your decision vote for either side, then I am glad that you voted.  But not voting or voting none of the above is not an option.  I can understand that some people are hurting.  We are living in hard times.  I can speak to that.  Some people may have lost trust in their elected officials, I can understand that as well.  But that is what voting is for, that is how you voice your concern.  Because when you don't vote you are letting everyone else decide your fate.

What bothers me the most is when celebrities aren't registered to vote.  It's funny everyone is up in arms right now because on the rapper Lil Wayne's mixtape Nicki Minaj says she's a Republican and is voting for Mitt Romney.  However, days later it comes out that she is not even registered to vote.  Four years ago Tyler Perry came out as saying that he wasn't registered to vote.  Celebrities have so much power in their hands.  Celebrities also have a lot to lose by voting for the wrong person.  Both children and adults look up to celebrities.  It would be so powerful for a celebrity to say that they are voting rather than talking about alcohol, drugs, cars and women.  How refreshing would it be to talk about ballots instead of sextapes...I digress....

How about the people who can't vote?  Did you know that convicted felons lose their right to vote?  According to ProCon.org it was estimated that 5.85 million people as of 2010 with a felony were barred from voting.  In 12 states you may permanently lose your right to vote if you have a felony conviction!  This means that even if you served your time and were released that you are still paying the price.  And don't get me started on the disproportional racial population of inmates.  It is just a fact that many black males will either be banned from voting again or have to go through a series of hoops to have their voting rights restored (re-enfranchisement).

After seeing a photo that someone posted on Facebook today I was reminded why I vote.  The photo was taken in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.  It shows three teenagers getting hosed down in the street.  I know this photo because I am looking at it right now.  It is a power in my room marked courage.  I bought this poster to remind me what courage others endured for me.  This is why I vote.




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