I stand on the shoulders of many…
Every family has their own story of making it in this country, in many languages. It’s just a matter of how much we listen. My family has always been very vocal about our history. And maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I’ve always been fascinated by the journey. If we choose to vote today, we’ll walk into our district school and pull the lever without a hint of harassment. Imagine having to walk to the voting booth, belittled with every step by a flurry of racial slurs. Worse, imagine being hosed down by policemen. Go even further back, and imagine being considered only 3/4 of a human being, and deemed insignificant, devoid of the mental capacity to provide a rational vote. Yes, this was the black experience in America, but it affects all nationalities. If it wasn’t for the fight, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, and all who make up the patchquilt of our nation would not have the voice we have today.
The elders of my family vote in every election. From community leaders to the presidency, their vote is counted. In the 1960s, they would wait hours to vote. Grown successful corporate women, were called “girls” by children half their age, but it didn’t deter them. Their mother wasn’t allowed to vote when they were younger, and they wore their constitutional right as an honor. I was raised on the ideal that the family stands on the shoulders of previous generations, and it’s your duty to honor them by using the voice they fought for.
We freely voice our opinions on Twitter’s trending topics, “like” our friends’ birthday pictures on Facebook, and vent earnestly in status updates. Our voting districts are within walking distance of our neighborhood grocery stores. It’s just as simple to make a lasting impact.
Yes, it’s no secret that I’m a huge Obama supporter. I’ve followed him before he was elected Senator, because I really identified with his mixed race experience, and the extremely strong women who raised him. But I believe wholeheartedly that we should not vote solely by party lines. We desperately need a bipartisan government. With war, depleting natural resources, and a failed education system, it’s not time for an “us vs. them” mentality. Nor is it a time for indifference.
If you are voting today, please take the time to educate yourself about the candidates. Sure, “The Rent Is Too Damn High” guy is amusing, but let’s leave him as a YouTube sensation and vote in the leaders who can make real change.
Whenever I vote, I think about my grandparents. Now in their 80s, they still make their way to the booths. It’s become a tradition to vote along with them, four women spanning three generations, and I silently thank them:
I remember my Great Grandmother who stood in line every morning on Lenox Ave., to wait to be handpicked by a housewife to scrub their floors, to put her daughter through nursing school.
I remember my Grandaunt who landed jobs over the phone as an RN, so that she would not be denied because of her skin color.
I remember my Mom instilling these stories in me as a child.
And I thank those who I’ve never known, whose stories were never heard but will never be lost through me.