A Small Victory
Hey y’all! Happy Monday!!
I know that I haven’t been around since mid October. Sorry y’all! There’s this thing called an election happening tomorrow and it’s kind of a big deal and I’ve kind of been helping with it. And by kind of, I mean it’s occupied a huge chunk of my life. Lol!
I started a new job last September working in a politically charged organization. On Sunday, November 6, 2011, we launched a non partisan civic engagement program within Black churches throughout the nation. I could not imagine then what the year would be like. I could not imagine that I would get the opportunity to go to the White House and hear President Barack Obama speak. That I would be able to sit in on “strategy sessions” about getting out the vote (all in a non partisan way). That I would get to go to the DNC Convention in Charlotte, NC and witness First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama speak?!? This was not the life that I had envisioned.
Because admittedly, for me, my life, I have often played myself small. Imagining big things for others, but never for myself.
But this year has taught me that in this world of politics, of civic engagement, every effort counts. No matter how small you think it is.
Because nothing is small.
The work I have done matters – creating materials, shipping things to folks on the ground, returning phone calls even if I didn’t feel like it, being the person people could turn to so they could get the job done – that all matters. The hours I have logged, the times I have risen early and stayed at work late – it all matters. The work countless of volunteers across this nation matters. The work that Black ministers, churches and parishioners have done to get out the vote matters. The people who have stood in line to early vote matter. The people who have prayed matter. The people who have phone banked matter. The people who have fought back against the voter suppression laws matter.
It all matters.
Because it all comes down to tomorrow.
This year we have seen Republican led statehouses, Governors, Secretary of States, just PureD fools, try to suppress the right to vote.
Because they know that the vote is the one thing that still matters. Because it’s the one thing that everyone who is a United States citizen has access to. Regardless of race, creed, religion, sexuality, gender, age, ability, economic status, geographical location,or education level.
It is the one thing that is supposed to make America America. It is supposed to be the thing our country is founded upon. Clings to when everything seems uncertain. That we are:
A government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Now we know for years “people” meant white men. Over the years they “graciously” allowed white women, Black folks, and other people of color to vote.
And that’s where the present day comes in, as our nation changes, becomes browner, “hipper”, moves fast and furiously towards a multicultural future – we saw an old guard, afraid and determined, take painful steps and make a concerted effort to take the right to vote away from certain people.
And yet one day before the election, in Ohio and Florida, where voter suppression efforts were at all time foolish levels, early voting has already surpassed what it was in 2008.
Oh yes. But there’s supposed to be an enthusiasm gap this year? The polls say that the race is virtually “tied!” Obama didn’t “win” that first debate. Yada.
None of that matters.
Not one day before the election.
What matters is us.
That we speak with our vote.
Because it’s ours. It was fought for by too many folks who risked their lives so they could have it, but also so unborn generations could have it too.
The photo I used above is from Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965. It is one of those picture worth a thousand words moment. One side simply demanding what is rightfully theirs. The other side, putting up a finger and saying no. You can live here. Pay taxes here. Work here. Barely make a wage here. Go to school here. But that’s it. You are allowed no more. You cannot have a say, an opinion, be an active participant that helps decide the direction of this nation. So, stop. You can come no further. So don’t you dare take another step, boy.
My mother’s family is from Selma. They were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. My mother and aunt had to run for their lives from an angry mob of white people who almost threw them in the river. My grandmother, a nurse, treated John Lewis when he arrived to the hospital.
I have carried their stories, their brave moments, around for years. They have moved and motivated me. They have molded the woman that I am today, a woman who has always been “interested” politics, but never worked in the field. I would just read things and get riled up – with no place to channel my energy.
But this year, this year, God put me in a place that challenged me (Lord it did!), stretched me, blessed me, and let me make my own contribution to a cause, an election that is really a matter of life or death, future or fraught. Because this year, there are people like in the photo above. Sure, they don’t have dogs and hoses, things are more high tech – but they have spent this year holding up their finger, trying to tell some people – that this is a far as you can go as a citizen of these here United States.
I pushed back and said no all this year with every Black church I helped around this nation.
And tomorrow I will do it with my vote.
And that’s no small feat.