• Monique Neal

To vote or not to vote - there is no question.

In a time of a global pandemic, an economic shutdown, the loss of Super Humans such as the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Honorable John Lewis, the Honorable Elijah Cummings and so many more, now is the time for rising leaders to step out of the shadows and let the voices of the Ancestors roar like thunder. “This is a movement, not a moment and the marathon continues!”


To understand my perspective today, we have to look to the past. I have only been able to trace as far back as my great-great-great grandparents who were born circa 1843 in North Carolina, one of the original 13 colonies. The Civil war took place between 1861 and 1865. Slavery was abolished in 1865, African-American men received the right to vote in 1870 and in 1920 the 19th amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote. While these rights were granted, states came up with very creative ways to silence Black voters. A few methods included poll taxes, voter intimidation, literacy tests, and in some cases death, for simply trying to exercise that right. Finally, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 comes, making such tactics illegal.


So why the history lesson? Well, there have been only three generations of women before me in my family who legally have had the right to vote and it wasn’t until my mom’s generation that voter intimidation and suppression tactics became illegal. Many still don’t understand that while the rights are there, there are still enforcement related clauses that need to be reviewed every 25 years. In essence, our right to vote is NOT PERMANENT.


My first voting experience was in the 2000 election and in 2008, the US elected the first African-American President; something I never thought I’d see. Fast forward to 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that same sex marriage is the law of the land (insert wedding bells). While some of these facts may not matter to you, they matter to someone in your life, I promise you they do. These are stories of representation, the difference between life and death, the threads of love (and hate) that still bind and connect us to that ugly past that is HIStory. While the system was not meant for me, as I reside here, I am still part of this system as long as there are taxes and we are a capitalist country.


I have seen many on my feeds indicating that they will sit this one out. I WON'T! So why is voting important? Well, if we look at the fact that nearly everything that we hold near and dear to us is more than likely the result of legislation of some sort, I think more people would be willing to participate. The Census dictates how much federal funds are distributed to each state. The state then disburses the funds based on the programs earmarked for the various categories on the Census form. Your state and local (city and county) ELECETED officials vote on the various boards and committees as to HOW, WHERE, and to WHOM those funds (including additional taxes levied) are given to. If you don’t like what they’ve been doing, sitting it out simply means you give them your permission to do what they want. This goes for public housing, infrastructure, land and business development, public access to healthcare, education, jails and prisons and so many other programs. Are you a business owner? Do you know how your structure and taxes will effect you?


I will leave these last thoughts with you; in the middle of a pandemic, access to healthcare is being restricted, IN THE MIDDLE of an election - a hearing is being held to possibly seat a justice – who has publicly admitted that she is not in support of a case that allows women to have a say in what happens to their own body, two justices are now wanting to have my marriage deemed void. If you love your life and those of your family members, vote like your life depends on it, It does!


“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they can do this is by not voting.” ~ Franklin D Roosevelt


Vote for the future you want your kids and grandkids to have.

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