I vote to honor my ancestors. The ones who survived slavery so that I might thrive; the ones who died pursuing freedom and liberty. The kinfolk who suffered selflessly so that I can legally read, write and vote. The ones who fought in World War I, World War II and Vietnam. They are the reason I found the motivation to vote early during a pandemic.
And even with the blood bond burning in my being, I still considered opting out of American politics and all of its insanity. I understand fully that some readers might not understand my disillusionment with voting. And I know that this is not the politically correct response – as I am sure it sounds callously irresponsible – but, it is the truth.
Did I vote this year? Absolutely. Do I feel good about it? No. Those are the simple facts.
Frankly, I am in a complicated relationship with America. In fact, I would call it toxic. I have considered moving abroad for years now. Voting dredged up feelings of disappointment and betrayal. Black people built this country with our blood, our sweat, our tears and our lives. Yet, we have continually been cast in a narrative of unpatriotic degenerates who have been historically and systematically oppressed in every kind of way. Unlike other countries, America has adamantly refused to provide the victims of its slavery system with reparations or remorse. Meanwhile, the descendants of slave masters, slave traders, overseers and slave catchers continue to unapologetically benefit from the financial foundations built upon the blood-stained whips of their racist forefathers, none of which had an authentic claim to this land we know as the United States of America.
I am a bit hesitant to believe in America’s latest performance of democracy. The leading antagonist – err, I mean, the current president – has ushered us into a distinct dystopian setting where the only solution is escape. And as a former foster youth, I see no party or particular politician who is fully focused on the policies and legislation that will protect and defend the humanity of current and former foster youth. Escapism is a familiar refuge for foster youth – escaping abuse and neglect, escaping strangers and unfamiliar adults, escaping a system that does more harm than good most of the time. A 2020 Remi Weekes screenplay entitled, “His House,” sums it up well: We “survived by belonging nowhere.” And nowhere sometimes feels better than America, as of late.
I think it is ridiculous how the Democratic Party continues to push candidates who don’t move the system forward. I am tired of being told to pick the lesser of two evils. I want to find a way to get to a less evil government. I struggled and debated with even voting in this election, I don’t think that’s what it takes to get to a better place in this country. I would never vote for Trump and I also believe Joe Biden is a terrible person who is not fit to lead. It sucks that we are in this binary, forced choice, with no other options. It’s sad that the discourse and thought process now is that you must vote because we cannot take another four years of Trump. This is true; however, things will not take a grand step forward with Biden in office.
I also do not like Kamala Harris. I don’t think a cop should run the country, especially when they have a track record of locking up Black people.
Still, I voted – and I don’t know how I feel about it. The pressure and mounting noise that comes with election cycles always seems to be geared toward young people and people of color. Embodying that intersection can be tiresome. Sifting through the chaos outside doesn’t always leave the energy to decipher political candidates, their positions, and their platforms.
This election, like every one before it, does not have true options for candidates for the people. Voting for any party outside the domineering two is a surefire way to split the vote and throw it to the worse of those “two evils.” Our hands are forced to participate in the farce that is democracy. I would even argue that the other elections wield more power to citizens – state, municipal, partisan and nonpartisan primaries, caucuses, annexations and incorporations – if you do decide to exercise your vote, please pay attention to these. As for the federal election, it’s all illusion – smoke and mirrors. We are simply deciding who will lie to us about what and through what lens? Red or blue?