By Miracle Jones
Special to the Pittsburgh Current
The past few years have been honestly overwhelming with almost weekly policy changes impacting the ways we live our everyday lives. Despite Covid-19 being a wake-up call to many Americans, for Black people the last few years has revealed a truth we already knew: this system does not care about you and will always choose profit over people.
This is why I don’t believe in voter shaming. I don’t believe in sounding the alarm to force people to vote in a system that was not created for them and is actively working against them. The reality of the situation is this election is a reflection of decades worth of bigotry, erasure, and government malfeasance that has brought us to this point. If one election is going to decide our access to healthcare, our access to reproductive justice, access to housing, our access to food, our access to education, and access the freedom, then we have been failing long before 2020. This one election is not going to save us, but it can definitely create way more harm than many of us ever thought imaginable.
In the city of Pittsburgh, we have a ballot initiative that would create a better investigation tool to review police misconduct and brutality and make it harder for officers to escape punishment and reprimand. That’s a policy that I care about and that’s one of the reasons why I’m going to vote in this upcoming election. However, there are so many more things that need to be on the ballot in the legislature such as Medicare for all, the legalization of marijuana, reparations, the forgiveness of student debt, and the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid so most vulnerable populations have access to their basic needs.
The heartbreaking thing is that so many politicians really do not understand what people are going through every single day in order to survive, support themselves and live. .
I firmly believe that people need to vote when they are given the choice, when there is policy that caters to their needs and when they don’t have to worry about voter suppression denying them the right to participate in a free and fair election.
This pandemic has exposed what so many of us Black queer folks already knew about this country, the society this government. Yet, one tool that we have to ensure that it doesn’t all implode immediately is our vote when there are policies and people who put forth ideas which improve the quality of our lives.
That is why I am supporting down-ballot races. The local level should represent the ideas and issues that I care about.
I firmly believe that the path to equity and Liberation is not going to come through voting but through assembling people together to consolidate power and fight together through mutual support and community.
I still view voting as a means of harm reduction to ensure that we will be able to have the opportunity, resources and abilities to build power together as a people. It’s important that politicians, elected officials and the other people in power use this time to actually listen to the people who are voting for them, but they also must listen to people who are disenfranchised and the people who feel left out of the system. Listening and understanding the stories of those marginalized, those often ignored makes for policy proposals and initiatives that will help vastly improve the quality of life for all Americans.