On Saturday, October 31, I voted for the first time in my life. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences I’ve had to date. Upon arrival, I was inundated with pamphlets to read outlining each candidate. At the voting station, there were so many names on the ballot that I was unfamiliar with even after having done a bit of research but I ultimately knew that I needed to contribute to this election. When it was over, I felt relief. More so than how I felt on Saturday, November 09, 2020, as I watched President-elect Joe Biden give a speech that spoke to the state of our nation and how he would be a president for all people. Never before has such a promise been made on such a global platform. Hopeful as his words were, they left me with a lot of questions: Will this stance of unity be sustainable throughout his presidency, and what is his definition of unity? Does this unity come at the cost of our voices? And my main question is, what is our role/responsibility now that the election is over?
The roles of President and Vice President have been laid out for Joe Biden and Kamalah Harris by their predecessors, yet I feel their priorities are being challenged to evolve while the roles of the people are changing as well. To successfully progress toward true unity and civil justice, we must re-evaluate the roles we play in society in the movement toward racial equality in ideal America. I’ve observed a variety of roles in my life: The Instigator, The Foot Soldier, The Spectator, and The Scribe/Storyteller. The Instigator fans the flame of chaos, which causes strife and rifts amongst the people. The Foot Soldier is one to take to the streets protesting in a manner that could be either peacefully or violently. They can also participate in financial protests, where they are selective with their circulation of money. The Spectator, from my observation, has a lot to say, but no substantial contribution to a resolution, but a Scribe, is an observer who records and makes a report of their findings. I am the latter.
Now that most of America are at home, we’ve had much time to evaluate where we stand on a lot of issues and how we want to participate in them. There’s been protest after protest in the streets and Blackouts across the internet where people refuse to spend money or feed into the hatred and nonsense. I’ve seen more clips of people speaking out in public hearings this year than ever this year alone, but I find myself among those who sit back and observe and write and tell stories about the things we see and feel from the collective conscious. There was a time where I questioned the value of this and my value. Then I was reminded of great writers, comedians, storytellers like Toni Morrison (God Help The Child), author Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone), comedian Dave Chappelle (Sticks and Stones), and artists such as Childish Gambino (This is America and It Feels Like Summer) who are constantly giving social commentary on life as they see and feel it. The storyteller is no less on the frontlines and the foot soldier, we just function in a different capacity. We remind the people of what was and pose questions about what needs to be done in the present for our future.
I believe it’s time to listen before it’s too late. I was reminded of a post by Will Smith about how we must L.U.V. one another while watching a British GQ interview with Actress Michaela Coel, ‘If you don’t show it, it can be erased’. She said our responsibility is to now understand one another and Will said we must Listen to Understand one another, not just to respond. And we must Validate what we have heard before responding. It’s time for the youth to sit down and have a FaceTime chat with their grandparents to see what they had to endure, and what they chose to do in the face of injustice. It’s time to re-evaluate how we want to approach the matters we still face today and count the cost. It’s time to research sustainable alternatives for living because the Earth is growing weary of our excessive misuse of resources. We must decide on what we want and move unwaveringly. This planet is our responsibility. Our families and our neighbors are our responsibility and we mustn’t shirk them, but embrace them. Have you embraced your responsibilities today?