NOVEMBER 1, 2022
BLACK PUBLIC MEDIA
By Leslie Fields-Cruz
Voting is Not Only My Right, its an Act of Remembrance
By this time next week I hope everyone who’s reading this blog post has either sent in their absentee ballot or cast their vote at their local polling place. Our news, mailboxes, emails, social media feeds, and texts have been flooded with campaign ads, donations requests and more. Annoying, to say the least, but necessary in today’s era of information overload. If you don’t know that it’s election season in the US, then you are either living in another country, or under a rock.
As I sift through the slog of information evaluating each candidate’s slate, I never forget why I vote year after year. Even when it seems as if NONE of the eligible candidates' positions align completely with my own values or interests, I vote because it’s my right that many fought and died for me to have. I vote because I am reminded that my grandma Queena wasn’t eligible to vote until 1920, she was 24 years old. I vote because my grandparents Deborah & Allen Hay endured voter intimidation and disenfranchisement in South Carolina. I vote because prior to 1984, our polling places were not accessible to those with disabilities. The voting rights act exists to protect everyone’s right to participate in our democracy. So to give up my right because:
1) I don’t want to stand in a long line;
2) I don't feel like putting a stamp on an absentee ballot; or
3) None of the candidates appeal to me.
Not going to happen!!
Still, if that’s not enough to convince you to participate, do it in recognition of Native American Heritage month. What? You ask. How do you connect this to voting? Our American democracy was inspired by the Iroquois Confederacy, a representative form of government practiced by six Native American nations that was greatly admired by Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The confederacy was founded in 1142, 300 years before Europeans came to the Americas, and is considered one of the oldest living participatory democracies on earth.
Hiawatha Wampum Belt, a symbol of the Iroquois Confederacy. Photo courtesy of the KT Virtual Museum Project
Democracy is hard. But I’m not interested in living in a dictatorship or a monarchy. Are you?
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