Why I Chose Not to Vote

For me that’s easy, but I don’t want to come off sounding condescending. Some of you may know this, most of you don’t, but I’ve experienced an ego death of sorts. Through meditative self-reflection, I let go of so many things that I had been attaching to my sense of self, including my decision to self-identify as a Democrat. After experiencing my ego death, I felt as though I saw the world through a new pair of eyes. I liken it to being blind and seeing for the first time. I saw the way materialism, greed, and corruption have plagued the world we live in. I saw the way the media had molded the way we think about the world and feel about ourselves and it permeated every single aspect of our lives. I never even realized how much self-hatred had come from this. I didn’t love myself at all. I didn’t realize the way I felt the need to put on this face and facade when I was around people that didn’t look like me out of fear of being looked at as ghetto or “one of them.” Almost like I was saying to them, “I’m not that kind of black person.” I am totally not kidding. Through this revelation, I began to embrace myself, and I realized I didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectations but my own.

Let’s skip now to politics. I saw it as yet another divisive tactic. It’s one of the ways “the powers that be” keep us divided and easily controlled and manipulated. We’re already sectioned off by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and class amongst other things, why not add political party to deepen the divide? We have been conditioned to favor a certain party over the other. Most of us don’t even look at what makes someone a qualified candidate. We simply choose along party lines (which is exactly how I believe Trump was elected. Some people would rather vote for a person who’s reduced himself to using racist, bigoted, and divisive rhetoric over voting Democrat). I wonder who people would have chosen if none of the candidates were allowed to identify themselves according to their political party. I also realized that most people don’t vote, and voting did not alter the course of their world to the point that living became impossible. They simply went on with their lives. Case in point: Asian-Americans. Their voter turnout rates are much lower than that of black Americans, yet as a group, they have managed to prosper no matter who the president is. That is because the president isn’t your savior. The president isn’t going to wave a magic wand and make your reality any better, and he can’t really make it any worse. What I learned is that we are in control of our own destiny. And the reason blacks have been so deeply disparaged is because we’re looking for someone to save us. But the truth is, we have to save ourselves. We have to learn to come together as a people. We have to support one another. We have to start black businesses that employ black people (not in a discriminatory fashion, might I add), and then we have to support those black businesses. We have to build and invest in our communities. The problem is that most of us, when we make it, we abandon our communities. Black communities fail to prosper, and I knew that voting in an election wasn’t going to change that. I hate that Donald Trump is our president-elect. Believe me, I do. But for me, Hillary wasn’t a better alternative. Many of the problems that plague the black community, such as mass incarceration, she and her husband had a hand in creating.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about her. Because she is the main reason I decided not to vote. She was a flawed candidate to begin with. Her campaign was plagued by scandal after scandal. She should’ve dropped out and let Bernie take the reigns, but she and the DNC weren’t having that. The last thing this nation needs is someone that brings people together, right? *Sarcasm (but with a hint of truth)* Not only was Bernie somehow able to garner support from many different people from many different walks of life, he walked the walk. He’d always been on the side of the oppressed. I would’ve gladly put my thoughts on the democratic process aside (btw, there is no such thing as democracy here in the USA) to cast my vote for him. Bernie did not get the nomination and what we were left with was a choice between a shit-ton of salt and a shit-ton of sugar to be consumed all at once. And that sugar may taste better, but it’ll still kill you. The moment Hillary won the nomination, I knew–I just knew–that Donald Trump was being set up to be our next president, and I just felt like no matter who I decided to vote for, the election was set up in his favor. And think about it, HIllary got 48% of votes and Donald got 47%, and he still won. NOW before anyone tries to school me on the electoral college, let me just say I am well-versed in it. I learned about it first in middle school, more in high school, and by the time I was in college, I was just sick of it. It’s an outdated system that our “forefathers” put in place because they didn’t trust the average American to decide on a leader…wait, what? But I thought this was a dem…oc…cra…never mind.

To further my disdain, I thought about the fact that blacks have always been major supporters of the Democratic party, which of course, is an apparently one-sided love affair. Not much has changed from when our “ancestors” were marching in the streets. This doesn’t mean that their efforts were useless, but they were misguided to say the least. They saw voting as out way out–as something that would put an end to the oppression. But not much has changed. Discrimination and segregation are very much still alive, just in much more subtle ways. Election after election, we vote Democrat, but year after year our community continues to have the same struggles. And all we get in return is, “We hear you. Next time, we got you…Couldn’t get to it this time, but next time…Next time…” I’m almost afraid “next time” is synonymous with never. It became clear to me that if we wanted true change, we were going to have to fix ourselves, and voting for a particular candidate over the other wasn’t going to make a difference. Under Obama, we were still poorer than most, more uneducated than most, and overall worse off than most. And I’m not blaming him. I’m blaming us as a people for constantly handing our problems over for someone else to fix, especially when throwing our support behind someone who doesn’t really care about and is unaffected by the problems in our community. Give me a worthy candidate then he/she just may get my vote. I’m holding out hope for 2020.

My apologies…

As many of you know, I decided not to exercise my right to vote on election night. And I know that many of you did. I understand your hurt, your pain and your frustration because I endured it too. I experienced it a long time ago, which led to complete disdain and distrust in our government. If any of you have seen my posts on my personal Facebook page in the last couple of days (check them out if you’re curious. I didn’t delete them), I’d like to sincerely apologize to anyone I may have offended. I meant what I said and I stand by my words, but I am sorry if I came off in a way that made it seem as though I was putting down anyone’s decision to vote. I realize that I cannot impose my beliefs on anyone else. I also know that everyone has to have their own journey to their own truth, and what they find when they get there is completely unique to them. Everyone’s truth is different.

I know a lot of you are hurt, you’re upset, and you’re afraid for the future of this country. To know that your words, your actions, your passion, your fight have all been for naught, is truly disheartening and feels like a slap to the face. I feel and know your pain. I know it’s hard to feel optimistic about what’s to come. I just hope that I can offer some encouragement in letting you all know that this isn’t the worst we have endured as a people. And the only remedy for such a steep and stark divide is unity. We must stop attacking each other and stop putting one another down. Never forget that there’s strength in numbers. The minute we all come together is the minute we can enact lasting and true change.

To my fellow black Americans, I know this wound may cut a little deeper for some of us. We need unity now more than ever. I have never seen a community of people as divided as we are. Before now, I never looked at my childhood as being lucky. I grew up underprivileged and in a single-parent home. I watched my mother struggle. I empathize with those kids in the ghetto because I was right in the thick of it. My mother did the best she could and did a very good job of shielding me from that reality as much as possible, but I’ve always been very aware. She couldn’t protect me from everything. Those of us who have made it and have had the privilege of never going without, please don’t look down on those kids in the hood. Know that life has shaped them and molded them in a very different way, and we’re talking several generations-worth of damage. Sometimes it seems as if they don’t want to help themselves because the positives are few and far between, and the odds have been stacked against them. A way out seems impossible. The only time you should look down on someone is to pull someone up and lend a helping hand. In reality, no one person is above another. Whether you have more or you have less, we share the same world, a world that is so deeply hurting. Materialism and greed have plagued us as a people, and believe it or not, much of it is not even our fault. We have been conditioned over time to attach material possessions to our sense of self and our self-worth. Luckily for us, there is a cure: love. Love is the only remedy for hate. We have to have love for ourselves, love for our people (not just people that look like us, but for every single person with whom we share this Earth), love for our friends, love for our families, love for our enemies, and love for everything around us. It’s the only way we’ll survive life in the Divided States in America over the next four years and beyond.