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They Died For This (By: Junior Bamisile)

Election time is here. Falling a week or so after Halloween is the much talked about “fate of the free world”. Ok, maybe it’s not that dramatic. Maybe you were the guy carrying your Barack Obama mask for a couple days urging your fellow Democrat to vote. Or maybe you put on a dapper ensemble and slicked your hair back, calling for the shrink down of government through the promotion of Mitt Romney. As a college student, the thought of graduation and entering the work force is “all hallows scary”. Everyone from economic analysts, to Jay-Z, to Rush Limbaugh are telling us who to vote for and just how are vote will affect our futures. But what politicians or the political process doesn’t do is urge us to assess our stake and our position in this voting process, and the outcomes from voting.

As a Black person, I have heard the rhetoric of “your ancestors died for the right to vote.” When this rhetoric or argument is presented, urging me or my people to vote, its done to shape us, to choose how we can realize our own individual and collective goals and dreams, and bring the positive change that we deem necessary. Just like the analysts or Jay-Z, these people might be telling you to vote, without telling you your stake in the process, or whether it is helpful or not. I feel that its unfair to try to force others to exercise their “vote”. Many people in our community feel voting results in no significant changes or is “not for Black people”. While I don’t agree with this I feel that those opinions should be respected and addressed in a respectful manner. A lot of people are not voting because of a lack of faith in the “system” and others are voting without true knowledge of the election and government process. I suggest you become proactive and discover what your stake is in this process and how voting will affect your goals and dreams.

I can also see the “your ancestors died for the right to vote” argument in a different light. In our community talking about our individual and collective finances or our economic situation is taboo. Discussing, as a community, how we are going to conduct ourselves socially is non-existent. But the argument “your ancestors died for the right to vote” is a call for us to be a serious GROUP. If you’re like me and get offended by this argument, just understand that its an urge for you to join in one of the few moments of collective action. It is important for people to use these moments and build other moments of action, to change their communities.

Don’t let others think for you or decide for you today, but do remember to think of your future and the future of your community when you vote. Think about how the policies or the agendas, both DOMESTIC and INTERNATIONAL will affect you and your people. Black Afrikan people did not die in this country for the right to vote. They died on a quest, the human quest for self-actualization, self-governance and self-creation. Sometimes it came across as voting or participating in a war. Black Afrikan people died on the way to voting booths in the south or died in the Civil War, Korean and Vietnamese Wars or even the World Wars (read: the Worldwide European Wars) thinking that an extra black vote or a sacrificed Black life could change things for their families and community. If you’re a Black Afrikan or if you’re from any other community, take their determination in the face of adversary as inspiration. Be inspired by their quest to make the kind of decisions that will positively affect you. Don’t wait to change the direction of your family, yourself and your community every four years. Start now. Investigate politics and economics and the industry you want to or already work in and see how this election and the agendas on the campaign trail might affect it. I am on a quest like my ancestors to self-actualize and part of that quest is investing the political process. I have heard that local and regional voting in groups is more effective than national voting, because of the ability to redirect state and city finances towards your community as well as change policies to positively affect your community. Whatever you do analyze your goals and dreams, and do as your mother and father said, “think for yourself.”

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