An excerpt from Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism From The Inside Out, Chapter 11: Cultivating Moral Character - Get Political
A country is only as strong as the people who make it up and the country turns into what people want it to become… We made the world we’re living in, and we have to make it over. ~ James Baldwin, Notes from a Hypothetical Novel
In the United States, we exist within a federal republic governed by the constitution controlled by the president, the congress, and federal courts. Many of our ancestors experienced much abuse for the right to vote—insisting on participating in a system that was never made with them in mind. It is now both a right and a privilege that we must take seriously because this system governs every aspect of our day to day lives, and is failing.
To become politically literate and involved, we need to know the racial biases of our state representatives, governor, mayor, city council, senators, federal and supreme court officials, and other party officials. We should know the jurisdictions in which we live, the school districts in our state and how they are funded, and how legislation is proposed and laws passed. This also means that when we receive those convoluted and intimidating voting ballots, we must get together with one or two other people and do a bit of research to be better informed of our choices—and then go vote. But we can’t stop there. We must also hold those elected accountable for their pronouncements and actions.
When we opt out of this civil responsibility, we become both victims and targets. Poor people and communities of color are often targets of infrastructure neglect, inadequate schools, unhealthy food, crime, racial profiling, water testing, oil drilling, and poor natural disaster response. Political neglect and greed agendas are influenced by our involvement or lack thereof in the political system. To ignore the significance of the political systems that control our lives is to dishonor the work of our ancestors, abuse the generosity of the earth, and work against a culture of care.
The voting process is what put the people who govern our lives into office. If we do not participate in the electoral process, we can’t change its dysfunction, and we cannot influence decisions and politics that impact our communities. We may not like the system or distrust it, and many of us may not understand how it works, but it is the system we have. And we need to know how it works before we can change it or create a new one.
There are people within your community who are politically savvy and resourceful. Seek them out and learn from them. Do a Google search and find out how things work in your district. You have about 30 days before the next election. Vote and take your family to vote in this critical election.