The Election is Over, What Now?

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?

This. Is. US.

There’s been a sense of urgency and quiet desperation in the air these past few days. People are sitting on pins and needles holding their breath, praying for a hopeful turn out regarding the election. I’m writing this without the foresight of who has won the election, nor do I care. I have this nagging thought that no matter who wins or loses, things aren’t truly going to “go back to normal” or change at a national level if the people aren’t aware and willing to do the work that needs to be done on an individual level first.

This morning I felt the desire to scroll down my Instagram feed, as lately I have felt withdrawn. For weeks my timeline has been inundated with voting propaganda, celebrity endorsements, Biden memes, etc. and the whole thing is a turn-off. Because even if Biden wins and Trump is no longer in power, realistically it’s going to take some serious time to uproot the entanglement America finds herself in with racism and economic disparity. As I was idly scrolling, I came across the feed of @theshelahmarie who posted about Eddie Glaude who is an American Academic and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. What he said in this interview was profound.

To paraphrase, Glaude said that America is not unique in its sins. It has this willful ignorance that protects our innocence. He blew my mind when he relayed the fact that the Tea Party wasn’t about economic populism, but about demographic shifts. They were upset about becoming a minority, so they raised hell. That sounds much like alt-right groups today, huh? Glaude continued to say racism is the ugly underbelly of this country and the country has been playing politics on this hatred. “It’s easy for us to place Pittsburg, Charlottesville, and El Paso on Donald Trump’s shoulders.” He hit the nail on the head for me, when he said that Trump is a manifestation of the ugliness that’s in us. I will take it further and dare to say he is a manifestation of karma we’ve had coming as a nation and if we don’t change things now, this will happen again and again. A never-ending cycle of hatred. You may agree to disagree, but simply put, Glaude said “This is us.”

That statement alone shook me because it was jarring and controversial, and it causes a need for self-introspection as well as introspection of the collective. What was our role in all this? Did we educate ourselves enough? Did we fight enough? Did we sage before we left the house, or offer up thanks before our feet even hit the floor? And where do we go from here? I feel like we’re recovering ground in our search for truth amid all this fear-mongering and blatant propaganda. The collective is feeling the pain from the loss of loved ones, rage from the lack of justice, and fear of the unknown. The possibility of things being left open-ended can weigh on the collective consciousness, so do your part and check-in with yourself and make sure your mental and spiritual health is up to par, then check on your friends and family to offer support where you can. Support your local Black-owned businesses to generate circulation of wealth within your community. Support Black-owned businesses in general. The floor has opened to mental, spiritual, emotional, and political questions. Your voice and opinions matter, so keep the conversations going and remain open to understand others. There is as much space to disagree amicably as there is to agree. We have to set the standard and remain firm because it starts, is maintained, and ended with us people. We’ve made it this far together, and if we continue to lay the foundation and build one another up, we will thrive.

Vote By Mail November 3rd! (A Photo Essay with Instructions)

Making your voice heard this year is critical. There are active attempts to limit access to safe voting and to suppress voting by Black and Brown voters, in particular, as is common in our great nation. Not one of us is going to get the $100,000 treatment that the outgoing president received to fight COVID-19, so make a plan to vote by mail in our General Election, this November 3, 2020. Here’s how:

The United States Postal Service has been operational since 1775, when Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General.
Reform society with your votes for Measures and Propositions. Learn about your choices from a trusted news source. I’m in Los Angeles, so I used Elections 2020 Voter Game Plan from LAist and recommendations for electing judges from the LA Times.
Your local city, county and district elections are printed on separate pages. Simply mark your choice clearly to avoid a misread of your ballot.
Sometimes, there is no good choice. It is acceptable for a voter to abstain. When votes are counted, there will be a discrepancy between the number of votes in the district and that particular race. Everyone will understand that some voters were unhappy with the choices.
The Presidential Ballot is the last sheet and clearly identifies all the official candidates, but allows write-in candidates. Once you decide on your vote for president, you’re ready for preparing your Official Return Envelope.
The Official Election Mail is clearly marked, and does not require postage.
Clear instructions are provided on both sides of the Official Return Envelope, a very recognizable and large article.
Signed, sealed and soon to be delivered by the trusted and proven USPS.
The pride of our nation, our historic USPS has delivered election ballots, Christmas gifts and stimulus checks have been sent and received with little-to-no incident for hundreds of years. USPS is as American as it gets!

Educator and activist Edissa Nicolás-Huntsman works to ensure democracy and has voted by mail since she lived overseas two decades ago. She’s safe at home, social distancing and exercising her right to vote.

The Debate Debacle

Kevin McCartney from Pexels

Many of us were looking forward to the presidential debates and ended up disgusted, confused, and disappointed in the undignified results. Michelle Obama tweeted her compassion with American voters that might have been unsatisfied with the turn of events.

The average citizen needs to remain mindful of everything happening shortly, because this may be the most critical election in recent history, if not all of American history.

The African American vote

Remember when we talked about barriers to voter turn-out? African American voters are having their mail-in ballots rejected four times more frequently than white voters in NC. Voting officials seemed to have no answer why. These rejected ballots belonged to Black voters that often didn’t know what happened. There was some speculation by the ballot staff that maybe these voters were using the mail-in process for the first time.

Fomentation of xenophobia

One of the most pressing issues facing American society today is the amplified, racially charged social unrest that has occurred during the Trump Administration. While Donald Trump likens himself to Abraham Lincoln in terms of striving for the concerns of Black Americans, he routinely refused to address these issues during the debates.

When asked why Trump removed racial sensitivity training from public services, he answered, “We were teaching them to hate the country.” It is unclear how training individuals concerning interactions involving approximately 15% of the population equates to the hatred of the other 85%.

Nationalism: ‘Our country, our values’

As he sidestepped racial inequality, he continued to blame China for “starting” COVID-19 and appeal to the banalest of American values, as if its citizens were cartoons.

“I brought back football,” Trump argued.

While he was patting himself on the back for bringing back football, Trump took no accountability of lost lives during COVID-19, stating that it could have been worse if he had implemented guidelines proposed by the Democratic Party and “shut the country down.” It never seemed to occur to him that the shutdown was because of a national health emergency affecting all American citizens.

Poor taste

Aside from repeatedly talking over the moderator, the aggressive accusations, and interrupting his opponent, Donald Trump admitted that he took advantage of tax loopholes on national television, blaming it on the Obama administration.

Does Donald Trump care if he wins the debate? He certainly was sure that he was going to be the incumbent come January. Many of his original voters are now undecided in this election. Because of this, the debate was a critical moment during the process. How long can Trump steamroll over others before he runs out of steam?

Breonna Taylor and The Blue Wall of Silence

Courtesy of Life Matters by Pexels

All over the country, in cities like Louisville and New York, there have been mass protests regarding the decision to charge one cop involved with the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Many Americans were shocked to learn the charges were for “wanton endangerment,” and not of Taylor’s, or her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker’s life, but the lives of three people next door. 

Strengthening Misperceptions

While no one’s life should have been in danger, this case raises many questions. No one can deny the reluctance by high ranking officials such as the police commissioner of many cities to discipline law enforcement when the protocol is not followed, with people losing their lives as a result. Although honest, professional law enforcement abound, decisions like this strengthen the public perception that there is an impenetrable blue wall of silence.

Unfair Justice

In other words, if there were three cops involved in the shooting, why is only one cop being charged, and not even in connection to the actual crime? Why is only one official being charged with endangerment, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, while Breonna Taylor’s family grieves her absence permanently? The uproar caused by such charges asks the question: why is it so difficult to maintain clarity during times like this? 

Understanding the players

The coming weeks ahead will continue to flare up with protests and retaliation from both sides. Constructive dissent is crucial, but we also have to continue to fight with our votes on a local level, as well. We have to know who our district attorneys, police commissioners, mayors, and district representatives are, and take an active role in not only choosing them but also holding them accountable for their decisions. 

Five Traits That Interfere with Social Awareness

As voters get ready to approach the booths this November, concerns ranging from healthcare to education to government fiscal responsibility will be on voters’ minds. With a historic election on the horizon, it is critical to remain level-headed as everyone casts their ballot. Still, there are five traits that could potentially hold citizens back from getting a wonderful government and the most out of their relationships with others.

Moderation 

This is a strategy that some individuals use to “moderate” or control social interaction. It includes censorship, defining others’ experiences for them without their permission or not accepting their narratives, and telling those you interact with that they are not allowed to choose the method and the regularity with which they communicate their concerns. Moderation is great when deployed during a roundtable discussion or some other formal circumstance to which all parties agree, but can tread dangerous territory when it harms instead of help.

Solipsism 

Solipsism is defined is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing.

The problem with solipsism is that it rarely, if ever, leaves room for new ideas and other perspectives. If one thinks their experience is the only one to be had, then it is hard to respond to social issues in a responsible manner. One of the most common results of solipsism is an inability to reach an agreement with others, resulting in a tug-of-war.

Definition

In this case, definition is the act of defining others’ identities, rights, concerns, needs, wants, and narratives on their behalf, particularly when they have not asked for assistance. It is important to hold authentic space for every voice — by due process and due diligence.

Fear

Most, if not all of these habits come from fear. Fear can manifest as the inability to introspect and see how alienating certain behaviors can be, making choices from an impoverished mindset, and questioning rights granted to deserving, otherwise unprotected groups. Fear foments hate organizations, dismantles critical thinking, and drives a wedge between factions that would otherwise interface with each other.

Intellectual laziness

In the 1970s, 60% of 12th graders read a book or a magazine every day — in 2016, the statistic was only 2%. Asking questions, reading, listening — these are all tools in your arsenal against being fearful and dogmatic. Even if you do not agree with the subject discussed, learning about other opinions and facts can help you refine your stance on certain topics. Examine your cognitive biases and steer clear of logical fallacies when listening to or making your arguments. 

It’s On Us… (A BLM Essay)

There is so much to be said and there is so much being said. Lack of efforts are not a good enough excuse ignorance and silence. Black people deserve to live full lives. They deserve to have joy, love, shelter, food, and opportunities… and if you (a non black person) continues to believe that they have the same opportunities as the rest of us, you’re still not listening. You’re still asleep. Policies need to change! We need to ensure protection for black humans.

🙏🏽 Join your city council meetings if you haven’t already done so. 🙏🏽
Policies need to change. We need to protect black people. We need to protect black trans people. We need to protect black women. We need to protect black children.

This painting has gone to a beautiful interracial family who just announced the birth of their first baby. I hope the future is a safe space for her. It is our job to ensure the future of all black children, children of color and queer children. The painting represents the strength, resilience, innocence, and beauty of black girls and women in all kinds of relationships–be it siblings, parents, and friendships. It represents the bonds and communities they create and all the curious and magical ways they continue to uplift themselves.

We don’t deserve them, but they continue to forgive and love us.

Untitled by Christina Xu for Living Artist Project

Christina Xu, is an artist and muralist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been a Living Artist Project Contributing Artist since 2014. Find her work at www.christinaxu.art or follow her on IG @ChristinaXu_.

Barriers to Black Voter Turnout in 2020

While discussion continues about law enforcement and its practices, other factors make this year a very critical one for Black voters. Here are some things to consider on the way to the polls come November:

Proper Allocation of Resources

Redlining, a term popularized in the 1960s by American sociologist John McKnight, has been long practiced in the United States. It has kept Black people away from the voter ballot and has dismissed their concerns. What makes redlining particularly painful to voters is the fact that it perpetuates generational wealth, medical, and food disparities, and those areas deemed “unsafe” 80 years ago are still low to middle-income today

Less money means more voter suppression and less political reach through lobbying and other means. While there are some well-heeled Black people in the United States, Black people as a class do not have wealth that is on par with other groups.

Imbalanced Use of the Census

Another example of this institutionalized segregation — illustrated in Christian Farias’ 2019 article Is There Racist Intent Behind The Census Citizenship Question? — wherein Farias explores how the ethnicity and citizenship information is gathered by the Census and used. 

Everyone is supposed to count, but that hasn’t always proved to be a positive experience. Because of this and other factors, there is public distrust of the Census Bureau, as the Census has been historically used to funnel resources away from areas that happened to have high populations of Black people. 

Health Concerns

Media discourse around COVID-19 threatens to discourage the use of voter participation as a way of biological redlining. With COVID disproportionally affecting Black people, voters have to remain engaged in political conversation, distancing or not. The rub here is that many constituents expect this to happen but will not respond accordingly. 

So what can we do to be prepared for months coming ahead? Some simple steps are:

  • Start or join a healthcare sharing group.
  • Find out more about the Census.
  • Research ways to become financially literate, or if you already are, share that knowledge with those in your community.

Dear Teenagers, (An open Letter)

I am doing this for you and every American teenager who has to miss so many important moments in order to keep your family safe. For every teenager who will VOTE the very first time on November 3, 2020, I want to make sure that wherever you are, without compromising your safety and with the confidence that your voice matters, because it does, that you can vote.

First, you have to make sure you can vote:

  1. Every US Citizen who is or will be 18 years of age on or before Election Day, has the right to vote. Learn more here: https://www.usa.gov/who-can-vote.
  2. Next, you must REGISTER to VOTE. Here is the link for you to RESGISTER TO VOTE while staying Safe at Home: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
  3. Learn about what offices will be on the ballot in your community.
  4. VOTE! Election Day for the nation is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

My husband and I think of and discuss you young people each day. We see the tremendous sacrifice you’re making for your family and community. You should be proud of yourself. It takes personal power to delay gratification for another year. Your courage inspires me. I also recognize that this is a very important time of your life. I wish you all the best, sincerely. May you thrive and find joy where you are. I hope you discover your real strength and get to know yourself well. That’s magic at any age. And, I hope you vote this year. Voting is one of the most important thresholds into adulthood that you can cross. Voting requires advanced planning, critical thinking and education. You matter. Make this year extra special.

Dear US Representative, (An Open Letter)

We the People need your help to ensure that EACH AND EVERY US Citizen can cast a vote this November. We understand that we will not likely have a cure for COVID-19 by November 2020, we can only slow the spread. Therefore, we need to have a plan to VOTE-BY-MAIL before November 3, 2020 so that every American Citizen can vote.

How long would it take you to fire a teacher who told your child to drink bleach or Lysol? Trump’s actions in the White House are reprehensible and unacceptable to most of us. We the people want to fire him as soon as possible. That means that EVERY state in the US needs to have a VOTE-BY-MAIL option by November 3, 2020 so that American Citizens can vote him out of office.

Bottom line: The Presidential Election is Tue. Nov. 3rd. We need VOTE-BY-MAIL in all 50 states. Pre-emptively, let’s discuss the “Fraud Argument” often brought up by Republicans to DISENFRANCHISE PEOPLE OF COLOR from our right to vote. Congress Person, we the people are smart enough to figure out how to have a valid and fair election. Just in case, here are my considered solutions:

  1. Countless US Citizens Abroad have voted with the Absentee Ballot from overseas and military bases for decades. through Absentee Voting. We’ve never had a problem. We know it works.
  2. Perform an accurate 2020 Census. If you want to know how many citizens there are in each county, COUNT US ALL in the 2020 Census. After that, you can stop counting votes when they hit that magic number.
  3. Create a new VOTE-BY-MAIL option for November 3, 2020. This requires we keep the United States Postal Service (USPS) open for business. Trump is already trying to shut the USPS, the most egalitarian institution the American people have.
  4. A VOTE-BY-MAIL option is Russia and cyber-tampering proof.

Fascism, Racism, hate-mongering and blatant stupidity are unacceptable methods of running the United States of America. The world is watching us. We are failing our children. WE THE PEOPLE, DEMAND ALL CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES WORK TOGETHER TO ENSURE A VALID, FAIR ELECTION NOVEMBER 3, 2020. We elected you to support us. Get to work. We deserve better.

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Demanding Democracy,

All US Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

Get in Touch with your representatives:

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 224-3121
TTY: (202)-225-1904

Tell them LA County is leading the way! https://patch.com/california/pacificpalisades/all-la-county-registered-voters-get-mail-ballots