2020 what a year! As I happily anticipated prom, senior portraits, finishing finals, and ushering in the Juniors to take our place as seniors, everything completely stopped. I found myself wishing I had said more and done more but there was no more time. I searched for answers and there were none to be found. There were no answers from the school board superintendent, mayor, parish president, or governor. I looked to national leadership and I was met with silence. Nothing more than just talks about this strange virus that seemed to have everyone frightened called COVID. Days passed and I looked to the people we entrusted to make decisions to run our country and they too did not have answers regarding our health. Instead of coming together, a political issue was made out of what was a health and safety crisis. The politics only added to the stress of the unknown. During this pandemic, I found that there were more than 160 million people who were stressed and wanted answers and to hold the leaders accountable for their response and actions regarding COVID, and other kitchen-table issues.
Like no other time in history, a record-breaking amount of people cast their vote either in-person, early voting, or by mail-in ballots. Nearly 160 million Americans spoke loud and clear. The reaction around the world showed we were heard and we wanted answers.
As I reflect on my first ever major election, I felt a sense of pride to be a part of the change. I realized that it does matter and will make a difference when you vote. I also learned that women of color and young adults (Gen Z) played a pivotal role in the election of President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-Elect Madam Kamala Harris. Just knowing the Gen Z who were not interested in the 2016 elections or anything political was ready for the change in 2020 filled me with hope and joy. It was impressive to see my generation picking up and advocating for change.
Admittedly before the election outcome, I had a slight issue with many of my fellow Gen Z friends. In the days leading up to the election, I remember scrolling through various social media platforms and saw comments such as “my vote doesn’t matter,” “they won’t count my vote anyways,” or “they’re both bad candidates anyways” these comments angered me. I wanted to scream “No! Your vote DOES matter” as loud as I could in hopes they would hear me. These statements were upsetting because my forefathers fought, bled, and died for us to have the right to vote.
I could not possibly believe that after all we have been through as a country, someone who can vote would rather sit by and stay silent. I recall as a little girl my mom taking me to the polling station with her to vote and she would always let me press the button after she made the selection. When I turned 18 I remember my mom taking pictures of me registering to vote as proof that I was gaining a bigger responsibility as an American citizen. Based on my mother’s beliefs and the principles that she instilled in me, I fully believe all eligible Americans should be active in all elections both state, local, and national.
As a young black woman growing up in America, I realized that when I vote, it wasn’t just about or for me. When I pressed the button in 2020 to cast my ballot, I voted for my ancestors who wouldn’t even dream of having the right to vote. I voted for those who paved the way for women to vote, for my future children, my reproductive rights, my rights to affordable health care, and for basic women’s rights to be protected. I voted for marriage equality for everyone because I believe that no one should be told who they can and cannot love. Love is love and it will always win.
As I cast my ballot, I voted for my mother, my little sister, my aunts, my grandmothers, and my grandfathers. I voted for education quality. Lastly, my ballot was also cast in honor of the 220,000+ Americans who could not make it to see Election Day due to losing their lives to the COVID pandemic.
If the results of an election will not affect you in any way possible, then I strongly encourage you to look around at your peers, neighbors, family members, and friends. Cast your vote for them. It will always be part of my mission to exercise our fundamental rights, register and inform others to do the same, and be a part of the change. I will always vote and so should you.