A Revolutionary Act: Voting While Black

4 mins read
Photo by Element 5 Digital on Unsplash

This year, voting will be one of the many things that I will be doing while Black that will be both scary and revolutionary. Scary because this president has said he will use law enforcement to intimidate people who show up to the polls. In other words, “Vote for me or else” or “Don’t you people show up at all.” These are the same tactics Bull Connor used against Blacks to instill fear in people like John Lewis, who fought and shed blood for me in 1965 so that I wouldn’t have to fear voting while Black in 2020. Things are better now, but not so much better that I can vote without any fear.  

But, still, I vote. And because I do, my action will be revolutionary. Look, a revolution can start with one person or it can start with a million, but this revolution needs to send a message to Donald Trump and to white supremacy in America that says “Time’s up.” How is it that we can send this message about gender discrimination and sexual violence, but racism seems to be the last vestige of discrimination that Americans want to cling to? White America has found ways of making racism comfortable to live with, so they don’t have to part with it. It’s like hanging on to that old, tattered blanket — you know you should throw it out because the stench is unbearable to everyone around you, but you’ve got too many memories attached to it. It’s group think and it’s not just killing us, it’s killing you, too.

America is no longer going to be like Happy Days. Richie and Potsie at the soda shop days are long gone. And if you think Elizabeth Eckford walking through that sea of contorted white faces screaming, “Go back to Africa, darkie,” in 1957 was all for naught, think again. There is a revolution and it is rooted in the fear of being the next George Floyd, the next Tamir Rice, the next Breonna Taylor. It is also rooted in the thirst for the change that comes from the righteous knowledge that voting while Black brings power. It is the very thing our ancestors died for. It is the thing we must be willing to do until we die. Voting is not just our birthright, but it is our higher calling that says we belong here just as much as anyone else. 

Voting while Black can quell both our fears and cement our revolution. It solidifies our just presence here. It says we are as much a part of this country as anyone else, no matter how we got here. Our vote is the only thing we can claim in this country as the true price paid to us for our freedom. Why else would they keep trying to take it from us?

So think about all the things that we do while Black that we get punished for. Let’s use our vote as the means to strike back at those who hurt us just because of who we are. Let’s say “Time’s up” and vote racism out this year. 

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Aisha K. Staggers is a writer and literary agent. She appears weekly as a political analyst and culture critic with Jill Jones and Dr. Vibe on the award-winning, internationally syndicated Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, Medium, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, AfroPunk, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, The New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. She agented the book "There Was A Time: James Brown The Chitlin' Circuit And Me" (Post Hill Press, 2020) by Alan Leeds with foreword by Questlove of The Roots and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Her book, 'People Call Me Rude' is in progress. Prior to writing full-time, Aisha worked in politics and higher education as a professor.

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