Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bulletproof Part 8: Your Voice, Your Vote

Selma March 1966
        Just like many of you, I'm already tired of the ads on television; hearing President Obama and former governor Romney approve this message, listening the narrator tell me why one or the other is bad for me.  No matter how many times the media tells me we're in the final lap of the election, I still cringe at the sight of these attack ads!  Yeah, I get it, we have to hear where each candidate stands on certain issues, but I truly don't appreciate being bombarded with so many ads!
        At the same time, what I have observed over recent months has got me truly afraid for what America has in store for our future.  The great abolitionist and civil rights activist, Frederick Douglass once said: "America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."  And from what I've been seeing in the last few months has been nothing but falsehoods and an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the People!  But one thing is clear (it's so clear that if you can't see it then you're either blind or ignorant) many of these Conservative politicians have brought to light some "old traditions" that we all knew were still around, but here we are looking at them straight in the face.
        Yeah, I'll admit to you that I do have a bias due to my support of the Democrats and President Obama, but though I can admit that I do have a partisanship what I want to do here is not suffocate you all with pro-Obama propaganda, but to bring back to your consciousness an important right we MUST exercise this year and every year for that matter!
        Even before 2012, I noticed that a lot of my young Black brothas and sistahs have decided that they were not going to participate in the electoral process.  From what I have seen, this has been mainly because of  two reasons:

  1. They have been told, or came to the conclusion that their vote doesn't count
  2. They don't like who's in office or who is running to take that office
        I can understand why many would not be happy with President Obama and I can even more closely understand why anyone wouldn't want to put someone like Mitt Romney in as the leader of our country, but what I don't understand is why anyone would think that their vote doesn't count.
        Why wouldn't you believe that your vote doesn't count?!  Have you taken into consideration our history in this country?!  For instance:
        If your vote doesn't count, why wouldn't they give us the right to vote in the first place?!
        If your vote doesn't count, why would the KKK kill Black men as they went to the polls?!
        If your vote doesn't count, why would a man assassinate a president when he proclaimed that he was going to give the Black man the right to vote?!
        If your vote doesn't count, why would they wait until the early 20th century to give women the right to vote?!
        If your vote doesn't count, why for so many years did evil white supremacists systematically try to take away our vote?!
41st and 42nd Congress of the U.S.
        But alas, for something that doesn't count, history tells a story of people trying so hard to take our vote away.   Probably the most phenomenal piece of history that shows the power of the vote, can be found during the Reconstruction Era where Black men came out in droves!  They voted so many Black men into Congress!--well it's not like the white people were going to do it.  But we haven't had such success since because this white supremacist society made sure of that.  For over one hundred years though, WE FOUGHT BACK!
        The 1960s became the decade in which the blood that had been spilled for so many generations was finally being brought to television screens!  Freedom Summer, murders in Mississippi, church bombings, beatings, police dogs, assassinations, etc.!  Theses occurrences didn't happen because your vote didn't count!
Murdered Civil Rights Workers
        Now coming back to the present.  The economy is not great, Black unemployment is above the national average, American citizens that want to continue their education are DEEP in debt, and there is so much more to list.  I know many of you are not happy with what the president has or has not done, and again, my mission here isn't to get you to vote for President Obama...MY MISSION IS TO GET YOU TO VOTE! To get you to understand the importance of your vote!
        In 2008, they saw what we could do when we came together!  That's why in 2012, they are trying to take away the vote! And let's be honest, it's been the GOP enacting these ridiculous voter suppression laws to prevent the non-exsistant problem of "voter fraud".  Yes, for the sake of saying it, it happens, but it has happened less than 10 times in a 10 year period!  Voter ID laws, preventing early voting, being very strict on the registration drives, which are usually mostly held in the Black and Latino communities, read between the lines!  This is the 1960s, and even before then, all over again!
They're going to have people looking over our shoulders at the polls! They want us to pay for extra IDs that we don't need! They don't want us to vote early to make it so much more inconvenient! They even eliminated Sunday voting in some places!  (I will have links below for you to get involved in fighting and learning about voter suppression.)  And you're telling me that your vote doesn't count?!
        The reason why our ancestors fought so hard to get the vote, the reason many died or were beaten for the vote was because that piece of paper gave us a voice.  With voting rights, we had the chance to have a say in what went on in the government because if we don't speak up for ourselves, who will?  I know, many of us, including me, can't stand how this government works and how corrupt it is, but what I can say is that without participating in the political process, we're just standing by letting the government walk all over us!  I say "Power to the People" often because it's something I sincerely believe in.  But how can the People get the Power when they're letting the structure they want to change walk all over them.  So I propose this: if you don't like President Obama...don't vote for him.  If you don't like Mitt Romney...don't vote for him.  By all means...VOTE! Vote for someone you like, vote for an issue that you feel has your interest at heart! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!  As W.E.B. Du Bois put it: "With a vote in our hands, we are freemen."
Stokely Carmichael
        (Even those radical figures and organizations we all admire were involved in voting rights.  For instance: Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party didn't like how things were ran in Oakland, so he ran for mayor! Even Stokely Carmichael was down in Mississippi to register Blacks to vote! He was actually a key figure in creating a new political party that would accept Black Mississipians: The Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Ala., or Lowndes County Black Panther Party, which would inspire young Huey Newton and others in Oakland, Calif.)
        Once again, I understand all the frustration with the government, but that's why you need to take a stand and make a change!  Actually, by you not voting...you're doing exactly what the system wants you to do.  If you haven't noticed, a lot of people don't want you to have a say!  John Boehner, the Speak of the House, even said he "hopes that Blacks and Latinos don't come out to vote."  Do you want to fulfill his wish? I hope not.
        Let's silence those that oppress! Let's stand up and come out in droves on election day! More importantly, let's make Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and many more, proud!  So I urge all that aren't registered to vote to go out and register! I urge those that are registered to go out and help register voters! And I urge everyone to go out and vote this November because our future TRULY hangs in the balance!  And if you stand on the sidelines and not do anything...you have no right to complain about the issues.  So if you want your voice heard, please go out and vote!  And let's continue the mission to give All Power to the People!

Links about voter suppression and getting involved

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bulletproof Part 7:Am I Suspicious?

     I go about life everyday as I have been for the past few months.  I get dressed, sometimes I worry about my hair, I wonder what I'm going to wear, and I think about boys.  I'm actually a little bit different than the conventional girl because I don't dwell on those things as long as a lot of other girls do, but hey, I think about it.  Throughout the day I text my friends, call my family, laugh, and some of the other things a young adult does.  And there are times when I think about how those 90's babies are finally growing up.  Then I have those sad instances where some of those 90's babies that are suppose to be right up here with me are not because of the various problems that occur in our society.  Back in 2009, reality hit when a 16 year boy named Derrion Albert was beaten to death in Chicago.  Derrion and I were around the same grade, I was 14 about to turn 15 in the fall, and we both were just regular teens.
     I just turned 18 last fall, and I am now a freshman in college.  So I got to go through prom, graduation, and living on my own as a college student.  All these things a lot of youth will never get to experience because of the various problems with our society.  Recently, I have relived the sadness that I once felt for Derrion Albert after I learned about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.  Trayvon was 17 years old, a high school junior, athletic, social, handsome.  He's about a year younger than me, but was so close to being in my position.  I can't imagine how happy his parents would have been to see him in his cap and gown, or to see him go to prom, and head to his dream college.  But that imminent happiness has faded into unimaginable despair that Trayvon's family probably want so badly to change.
     I remember the first time I saw this story on the Huffington Post's Black Voices: "Unarmed Black Teen Killed By White Neighborhood Watch Captain".  I brushed it off thinking  "oh not the race card again...no, they must be mistaken".  It's not that I didn't believe it, it's that I didn't want to believe it.  I know how things like this affect me, and I have studied many atrocities that have occurred against Black people back in the day, and that just doesn't seem to sadden me...it motivates me to fight for the Cause.  Then I have to face the reality that I'm in the new millennium and things like lynchings, unjust police killings, racially motivated murders, as well as Black-on-Black violence is occurring in my time and among Black people my age!  These issues are real!  These issues still occur!
     Those that are familiar with the details of the case know the story of this injustice, and to briefly reiterate this heartbreaking story: Trayvon Martin was killed in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. on February 26 by George Zimmerman, a 28 year old self-appointed watch captain.  Note: Trayvon was unarmed, actually according to reports he only had a cellphone, Skittles, and an iced tea.  George Zimmerman was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. (Click here for more information)
     I know the story detail-by-detail from what has been released, and every time I see Trayvon's face I go into this state of shock.  I don't know.  I guess I can't fathom what type of world we live in, and what type of system we have been living through for so many years!  I mean, I wonder how someone could fall deaf ear to someone's cries for help and pleads for their life, and just shoot them in the chest.  I can't even imagine what was going through Trayvon's mind when Zimmerman first pulled out that gun and fired the first shot, which missed him.  And it is so hard to hear Trayvon screaming for help in the background of those 9-1-1 tapes...
     Sometimes I imagined what would have happened if I could go back and change one little thing about that day that would have changed the course of the events that unfolded.  I mean, there was nothing I could do personally for Trayvon seeing as I'm in Washington D.C., but there are times where I wish I was living in one of those houses, heard Trayvon's screams, and then I could have gone outside to confront Zimmerman.  But it just hurts me because there was truly nothing I could have done to prevent this, and there is nothing I can do to change it.  
     I remember the first time I had heard Trayvon's screams I couldn't get to sleep that night.  Actually, I was wide awake and I heard the screams and the gunshots as if it was happening outside my window!  It was as if I was being haunted by the mere entity of this tragedy.  Then I found myself looking at the past to see how my People dealt with occurrences like this back in the day, and boy was I inspired and motivated!
     I am so very fortunate to be attending Howard University, and I am very aware of it's rich history of fighting against this oppressive system, even fighting the injustices here on campus.  So we have been organizing to make sure that Trayvon Martin's death is not in vain!   
We need to arrest George Zimmerman!
We need to investigate the corruption in the Sanford Police Department!
We need to make sure that the Department of Justice does their jobs!
And we need to grow as a People!
     Look at what we face here! We have this grown man profiling a teenage boy because he's a Black male!  And not only profiling, but killing!  What type of place do we live in where those that are sworn to protect and serve oppress?! What type of America is this where the killer just walks free?!  What type of society is this where images of a people through the media determine how someone is treated and whether or not they live or die!  This system needs to be abolished because there have been others that have come before Trayvon Martin!  And if we don't fight against this whole system, there will be others after him, if there haven't been already!  The key word is WE because the system is not going to fight itself! So it is up to US...the People to do what we have to do to stop the cycle of oppression! 
     Yes, catching Zimmerman and convicting him is going to bring about a much needed justice...for the short term.  I do want Zimmerman to be punished for killing Trayvon, but what is putting this one man in prison going to do? It definitely won't stop the other injustices that occur, and this is why we can't stop mobilizing after Zimmerman is arrested and prosecuted!  We have to take down the whole system! And I pray that this momentum for Trayvon will not fade because THIS right here is the incident that is suppose to propel us to fight just as Emmet Till propelled Rosa Parks to refuse her seat, which started a movement! So let us be angry, let us be saddened, let us be sickened, but o let us be strengthened by our own power and our solidarity to advance ourselves!
     On the contrary, I do tear up when I see Trayvon's beautiful smile, and I've never met him a day in my life, but I just can't believe that this has happened to him.  I can't explain it, but when I look at his pictures, I am just flabbergasted that this happened and angered that those same problems our ancestors faced is still here.  Even more angered that people can get away with things like this...but I have to push on.  If Trayvon's parents can do it, so can I.
     And I did not write this article with the intent to bombard you with evidence of this and that, I wanted to sink into your consciousness.  I wanted to make you aware that though Trayvon Martin is very important, this issue is bigger than just Trayvon and Zimmerman, but this is a whole system! We have to attack the system and the people that feed it!  So PLEASE don't let this start and stop with Trayvon!  Let us unite! Let us continue on! 
Justice For Trayvon!--Sign the Petition to Prosecute Zimmerman!