Column: Voices of Everyday Leaders

by Tomicka Robinson | October 17, 2018 7:48 pm

Why we vote

I’ve been asked a lot lately “why I knock on doors” to encourage people to vote. Mainly because of my background in social justice work. I’ve used a lot of progressive talking points to stay on script and adhere to a particular narrative. But the real reason that motivates me, the two reasons really, are Ava and Stephen, my children. As a Black woman who’s the mother of Black kids, I need to do all I can to ensure they have a better future. The future I envision for them is one where equality is upheld through policies passed on all levels of government. A world where everyone has a livable wage so one job is enough, healthcare is a right and not a privilege, the criminal justice system is fair and folks can marry for love without discrimination.

After the last midterm election I was overcome with so much disappointment. I’ll never forget how hard I fought for sleep that night. Just to awake feeling beaten and hungover. Next thing I knew, I was crying crocodile tears because at that moment I grieved for my sense of loss for hope and optimism. In the days, weeks and even months, I paddled through the motions of the day-to-day. I genuinely feel that I was in a sort of traumatic shock that had to run its course. I’m embarrassed to admit that I encouraged conversations where the subject was “what’s the point”.

Now while I’m out talking to people in impoverished, urban communities, I’m confronted with that same question. Folks who also voted with glee just to have the wind blown out of their sails. Men and women who have chosen to settle for less than because it’s easier. Surrounded by blight, impacted by a bias criminal justice system, unknowingly facing voter suppression and the highest car insurance rates in the country; a few have given up. They’d rather be safe and guarded in their communities because hoping for a better future only for it to be snatched away hurts.

So what do I say to these individuals? I tell them I understand their pain and hesitation. I know that wishing for more can be more mentally taxing than just being. But then I remind them that too many people have died to guarantee our power to cast a ballot. I skip the approved talking points and speak from the heart. I mention my children and my vision of a more loving world. I plead with them to participate because our oppressors are doing all they can to discourage us. They don’t want us to come in droves on November 6th because our collective power could move mountains. And then I say if you’ve had enough of the mediocre, it starts with you doing something different. I “knock on doors” because I want more for my kids and my community.

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