Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 12): Give Us the Ballot!

Amiri Baraka teaches in his writing that “Each of us sees a thing or event according to our own experiences and interests and ideological stance.” It’s no wonder, then, that as Americans we are polarized by our viewpoints. And yet, within this complicated binary, lies the blatant practice of intentionally limiting the participation of working-class people, especially people of color, in the electoral process through Voter Suppression. The United States historically and actively excludes Indigenous, Black and Latinx Americans from the voting, and subsequently, from influencing national policy. To add injury to insult, Citizens must vote on a Tuesday, a workday.

Many youth in America want to participate in the political process, as their lives have been disrupted by Covid-19; many youth even risk their lives in solidarity with us. To dismantle oppression in our society, we must work multi-cultural, cross-generational teams to achieve win-able local results through research, writing, and data analysis–skills necessary for civic engagement. The context of our upcoming General Election during Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter Human and Civil Rights Movement warrants concern and action. Our young people need to feel their autonomy, strength and agency. Developmentally and otherwise, youth need to exercise their beautiful young minds.

Only we can prevent another Covid-19 disaster at the polls.

Lesson 12: First, read A Quick History Lesson on Voter Disenfranchisement by Carl Amritt. Next, organize under the direction of local youth how to give all residents in a 100 mile radius of your home access to VOTE. Use a concentric circle that ignores district, city or state boundaries in the consideration of the proposal. As a group, draft policies for a successful Nov. 3rd General Election, and send the proposals directly to government officials, social-media channels and community members.

Recognizing that all of our voices matter, we must ensure that we can all cast a ballot and participate in improving our society for all members. At this point, the Federal Government knows exactly who is an American Citizen, as they sent us Stimulus Checks, and I haven’t heard any complaining.

The Federal Government, the Courts, Governors, Mayors, Senators, Congressional Representatives and Donald Trump must ensure all American Citizens receive a VOTE-BY-MAIL ballot in their mailboxes for Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.

Artwork by Theodore A. Harris, 2008

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