“Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.” Roald Dahl
We’ve all heard the phrase “Voting is your civic duty,” but what does that mean? And what does it mean for African Americans in particular? I get it, voting is our responsibility but not everyone feels that way. But, why? Every since I was old enough to vote, I have and this election is no different. In less than 2 weeks, after a very tumultuous and contentious election, we will find out who Americans voted to be president. Admittedly neither of the candidates is my prime choice but one candidate is more professional and has the ability to lead this country in a more positive direction, so I will cast my vote for him. Are you voting? Do you feel that it’s your civic duty to vote? I DO!! I feel it is my civic duty to vote because it was a right denied to my ancestors, so I vote for them. I vote because they couldn’t. For this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP about the reasons why I vote….. I VOTE BECAUSE I CAN!!!
Voting is a fundamental process in any democratic system. Voting is when citizen’s elect who they want to represent them as a leader and on issues that may impact them. Even though voting is supposed to be a democratic process, it is a right that was NOT initially extended to all its citizens. For instance, the original United States Constitution did not define specifically who could or could not vote and because it did not specifically say who could vote, the decision was primarily left up to the states. This meant that in most cases, only land-owning white men were eligible to vote. While white women and Black people were excluded from voting. Although this type of blatant disenfranchisement no longer exists, other tactics, such as voter suppression are still used to exclude people from exercising their right to vote. In many parts of the country, voter suppression is still used by white politicians who in an effort to win re-election intentionally create obstacles that limit the access of a specific population of voters, usually African Americans. Because of the numerous attempts to deny people that look like me the right to vote, I vote for them. I vote because they couldn’t. I VOTE BECAUSE I CAN!!!
In 1869, the 15th Amendment was passed and Black men were finally allowed the right to vote. But even then, would-be Black male voters had to face many hurdles like- poll taxes, literacy tests, and other obstacles meant to discourage them from exercising their voting rights. This continued until the 24th Amendment in 1964, eliminated the poll tax, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, ended Jim Crow laws. When the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, because of the woman’s suffrage movement, women were granted the right to vote. As a Black woman whose ancestors were denied the right and privilege to vote because of their gender and the color of their skin, when I vote, I cast my vote for them. I vote because they couldn’t. I vote in honor of their struggle. I vote BECAUSE I CAN!!
I am voting because it is a right and privilege that was denied to many Black people. I am voting because I am the hope and the dreams of my enslaved ancestors. And on November 3rd, I will cast my vote for the president of the United States because it is my civic duty and my obligation to my ancestors. I am voting because they couldn’t. I am voting BECAUSE I CAN!! Even though the intimidation shenanigans and difficulties that some states are engaging in to dissuade us from voting, I am still voting. Despite the Coronavirus fears, I am still voting. Regardless of the conspiracy talks surrounding the election and mail-in ballots, I am still voting. Although the wait to vote may be upwards of 8 hours, I am still voting.
I am voting because the hands of my ancestors that once picked cotton are the same hands that couldn’t pick a president. I am voting because they couldn’t. I am voting BECAUSE I CAN!! And I encourage you to vote, simply ….BECAUSE YOU CAN TOO!!!
SHIP TALK: Are you registered to vote? Do you vote? Have you voted?
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