Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted for POTUS

“Grandma, what’s a democrat?” 

She turned to meet my inquisitive stare, smiled and answered me with, “somebody who cares about poor people.” 

I’ll never forget her answer. It stuck with me. The same way the peanut butter stuck to the jelly in between the two slices of bread I ate after school almost every day. I wasn't poor, based on the normal definition, but I also wasn't wealthy. I was a member of the middle class by default, and my grandmother was a democrat. I guess that made me a democrat, too.  

As an innocent child asking that naive question, I still had no idea what a democrat was. Not in the real political sense anyway. As far as I was concerned all democrats were Black, because most Black people I knew were poor. My next question would have been, "well, why aren't there any Black Presidents, Grandma?" but even at that age, I already knew the answer. I also knew that my political affiliation would not define who I was, or who I was destined to become. However, I did not know that history would be made the first time I voted for POTUS... 


2004 - It was an election year and my 18th birthday was only a few days away. I wasn't eligible to vote at this time, and I was a bit devastated as I watched some of my high school friends partake in this new adult activity. I had to wait 4 more years to exercise my right to vote. A right that was not always granted so freely. In grade school, I learned all about oppression, and although this situation does not compare, as a future college student I was looking forward to having a direct impact on the next 4 years of my life. Imagine not being able to vote because you were born a woman. Imagine not being able to vote because you were born Black. Imagine not being able to vote because you were born a Black woman... 

But, I couldn't vote because I wasn't of age. For a moment, I felt like I was being oppressed. It wasn't an identical form of oppression, but similar circumstances nonetheless. I immediately understood that voting is a responsibility, and I couldn't wait to be legally responsible for my future.

2008 - Finally! Another election year had arrived and I was ready to experience the joy of voting in a presidential election. This time, instead of starting college, I would be graduating and entering the real world a short month later. I'll never forget the moment, or the hours after. Not only was a Black President in the running, but a Black President was elected the first time I was actually able to vote in a presidential election! I witnessed history being made and celebrated this "unbelievable first" by screaming at the top of my lungs and running around the living room with 3 of my best friends... and then, the sound of loud music stopped us in our happy tracks. Someone was driving around in circles in the parking lot outside blasting "My President is Black" by Young Jeezy. We laughed, and then we jokingly sang along, because indeed he was.

In 2008, I voted for a democrat... a Black democrat... and my vote counted.


2012 - It's election time again, and our Black President, Barack Obama, is currently the prime target in a racist battle. For the past 4 years, he has been blatantly disrespected, his power has been constantly tested, and his political viewpoints have been skewed to plot his anticipated departure. All of the doubts, the judgment of his leadership abilities, the falsified documents, and the outrageous statements did not cause him to lose track of his initial promise for hope. He previously told us "Yes, we can", and yes, we did... with steady improvement in the employment system, healthcare for all, the conclusion of unnecessary wars, and increasing the possibilities for students to further their education. I'll be honest and say that I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he was Black. However, the truth is he's not as Black as I am. With a mixture of ethnic varieties flowing through his bloodstream, President Barack Obama represents exactly what he stands for: equality. Though many have judged him based on the color of his skin vs. the content of his character, he still maintained his poise to complete the tasks at hand during these past 4 years. With conspiracy theories being used as a ploy to get him out of the White House as soon as possible, we are urged now more than ever to exercise the right our ancestors fought so hard to help us obtain. Those who present an argument about not wanting to choose between the lesser of two evils, and proceed to throw religion into play only when it’s convenient for a political advantage, forfeit their entitlement to voicing an objectified opinion.

This year, I voted early. After standing in line for 1 hour and 17 minutes, I trotted back to my car, looked in the mirror and placed my "I Voted" sticker on my face. I wanted everyone to see how proud I was of having the right to participate in what was once a limited responsibility. I wanted to proudly showcase my confidence in making an informed decision about my future, and I wanted to be able to pay my grandmother back by dedicating myself to fully understanding what it truly means to be poor; a metaphorical reference that exemplifies just how easy it is to overlook those who are nothing like you... The "Poor Things". Those who struggle every day to find their place in a "free" America. The elderly woman who deserves to receive inexpensive medication to ensure that her health doesn't decline earlier than it should. The middle class citizens who are constantly judged based on their education level and how much money they make. The families in debt because they can't totally grasp the concept of progression. The woman who turns to sex to find love, and is bearing a child 2 months later that she can't afford to keep. The single mothers surviving on food stamps and probably feeding their children those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I once ate. The victims of society who can't get ahead because others are constantly judging them based on irrelevant factors, such as their skin color. The 47 percent...

I have many goals of my own, but in order to make history, one must be able to endure the struggle and effectively learn from it. This time, I’m not so sure how much my vote will count, but no matter what happens, I hope we all can continue to move #Forward in peace.

I'm a woman. I'm Black. I'm a democrat. I'm Liltera R. Williams and I approve this message.

V.O.T.E (Victory Over Tragic Events)!

*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*