Still, We Vote | Sojourners

Still, We Vote

Voter registration booth in the 1960s. Kheel Center, Cornell University Library. 

In the black community, voting has always been complicated.

We voted and yet you lynched us.

We voted and yet you incarcerated us.

We voted and you poisoned our water.

We voted and you tested your nerve gas on our soldiers.

We voted and you dissected, poked, and prodded our women's bodies as though they were little more than lab rats.

We voted and you redlined us into segregated cities that you knew were in flood zones, too close to the power plant, polluted with brown fields and toxic waste.

We voted but you taxed and gentrified us out of the cities to which we fled to seek asylum from the scourge of racial terrorism.

We voted in our own officials, bankers, barbers, beauticians, teachers, preachers, educators, and scientists, but you bombed and burned our Black Wall Streets to the ground. Then you voted to build a highway through it.

We voted and you called us "super predators" after we told you we needed better employment, better education, better healthcare for our sick and elderly, and land to plant and harvest healthy foods and vegetables.

We voted to replace a diet of liquor, crack, Utz, heroine, hot cheetos, Colt 45, and lead paint.

We voted so that we would not become a generation of cannibals, eating our own.

We have voted.

For us, voting has always been complicated.

Yet, we vote.

We vote because we have never had the privilege to retreat.

We vote because voting gives us one tool from many to hold you accountable.

We vote because it is one lever of accountability to inspire or compel a dysfunctional Congress to do its job.

We vote because both Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas are glaring lessons in what happens if we do or don't turn out to vote.

We vote as an act of resistance to your wicked schemes of voter suppression, poll taxes, bubble gum tests, racist robocalls, and kicking our senior citizens off of their buses as they headed to the polls.

We vote as a way to say that we don't just need a seat at the table but we have the power to build our own.

We vote because even as we have seen a generation of black and brown elected officials fail us, there is a new generation rising up that will stand with and for the people, the land, and all creation.

We vote because it is not the only way but is one way to participate in the freedom of our people.

We vote because we know that you have always been afraid of our power.

We vote because Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, and Ella Baker taught us the power of determining our own destinies.

We vote because we believe in ourselves, love ourselves, value ourselves, and refuse to let somebody else make decisions that will impact the communities where our babies and our elders have to live.

We vote because we know you were betting on us staying home. In your face. We're voting.

We vote because we believe power is a gift to be shared that can create vibrancy and hope in the very communities you tried to erase.

We vote not because we put our trust in America, but because we trust God.

We vote not because we believe in you, but because we believe in ourselves.

We vote because there is something about standing in line at the polls with people from every walk imaginable and going into the voting booth to do something subversive.

We vote because we refuse to let you speak for us.

We vote because we are expressing our commitment to a future that is not yet here.

We vote because, although voting for us has always been complicated, it still matters.

So we vote.