I started to feel like I needed to reevaluate my political position after I read a quote about what we are able to choose in late 2015. At birth our skin color, hair texture, parents, culture and religion are already chosen. We don’t even get to choose our name. As children we don’t get to choose our economic standing. In some cultures you cannot not work your way out of the class in which you were born. If your father was a carpenter, you are a carpenter.
I started to think about all the decisions I don’t actively choose. I didn’t like identifying as a lesbian, because I don’t like the boxes I’m forced into as a lesbian. I don’t want to be considered fem or stud or androgynous. I don’t want to take on some hetero-normative role or support all the toxic masculinity some women are taking on while identifying as feminist.
I hated when people started to say Bernie Sanders sold out, when he went from identifying as independent to democrat. I wondered if no one else understood politics. There are two ruling parties. He could probably garner some votes as an independent, but eventually he and the democratic nominee would both lose to Donald Trump.
Then Bernie Sanders lost the democratic nomination amid voter fraud claims. These concerns were not spoken and heard without action. There were protests and petitions. People were heartbroken. It was the first time I really fought for a candidate, besides Obama’s first election.
People disrupted Hilary Clinton’s speeches demanding another democratic vote. Some people were disappointed, disillusioned and demanded to know why Bernie didn’t fight back. I even started a petition, to stop the 2016 presidential elections until we could have a recount. Then I didn’t know there were tons of petitions. I’d argue those petitions were started on the proper forums, but it’s a moot point since like I said Sanders has tapped out.
In the meantime, I voted locally for judges, sheriffs and so on. When I went to get my ballot, I noticed how awkward it was when a tall older white man identified himself as republican. It seemed like the whole room got silent and everyone watched him walk to his voting booth. It was the first time I thought having to identify was inappropriate. It was the first time I noticed that someone else was taking away my choices, by limiting them to a specific party. It was the first time I wanted a full ballot.
I’m not even sure why I was so upset about someone else choosing my candidates. I felt manipulated. Which is weird, because though I’m ashamed to admit this, I didn’t know much about the candidates on the ballot. I was only up on three categories and that’s because I go to community meetings, where we’d been visited by candidates. They discussed getting rid of a sports center which would mean the ending of a local football team. I’m not into sports and don’t even know what season it is, so I’m all for putting that money to use somewhere else in our community. I voted for all the candidates names I recognized as protesters. Otherwise, I find keeping up with all the different issues and people against and for them is daunting. Especially since I don’t watch T.V.
I’ve stopped complaining. I actively get involved in changing things. I’m doing what Sonya Sanchez advised us all to do. Show up however we can and wherever we can. I bring my gifts and my energy. I am clear about my boundaries, but I show up. It has been life altering and life saving. I felt overwhelmed by all the issues facing black people after Mike Brown was killed. Now, I’m not burned out but I’m active. I am seeing the world with new eyes. I am expecting more from my representatives.
Recently, I started to research and follow Jill Stein, because she is interesting. I’ve agreed with everything she’s said so far. I also remembered her being there to protest voter fraud concerns.
Still, I wanted to remain committed to the democratic party because they were supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. Also, I didn’t believe Jill Stein could win. On top of that, I really don’t want Trump to win.
About a week ago, elected democratic candidates emailed an internal memo saying they no longer supported the position of Black Lives Matter. In fact, it directed local democratic officials to just listen but not to agree to support any of Black Lives Matter positions. Initially, the democrats pushed our position as their agenda. Some of them even went to jail during the Ferguson protests. So for them to stay they were no longer supporting our position and just listening, it was heartbreaking.
I mean, what is wrong with holding police accountable for killing unarmed black people? What is wrong with addressing the evidence from the Department of Justice’s investigation that blacks are pulled over three out of four times more than whites. Mean while, whites are cited or charged 70% of the time. While only 30% of blacks ever get a citation are a charge and a large number of these offenses are things that couldn’t have been determined unless they were pulled over. Like driving with insurance in lapse, disabling seat belts, not wearing glasses when their license indicates glasses are required. Yes these are serious issues, but it isn’t the reason they were pulled over, it was discovered after they were pulled over. While white people are pulled over for mitigating factors; not obeying traffic signs, speeding, during the commission of a crime, public belligerence, swerving while driving etc.
The position was to ask city, county and other local municipalities to stop funding their offices on the backs of poor people. In one case here in St. Louis, a woman was arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license, when the police found her sitting in the passenger seat, in her own back yard. Poor people don’t have money to hire lawyers and fight charges. Now an entire community is suing their local police department because they’ve created a debtor prison. Many false charges create warrants they are unable to pay. You can’t keep a job if you keep being jailed over your debt. It becomes a cycle.
Blacks are asking to stop communities from funding their local government on poor people’s backs. Blacks are asking not to be profiled. Blacks are asking for accountability and more training of police officers. Blacks are asking for body cams. Locally, in St. Louis Black Lives Matter was fighting for a Citizens’ Oversight Board, because after the Mike Brown murder, Darren Wilson’s narrative kept changing. The board would require police officers to make a statement after an officer involved shooting that couldn’t be changed. None of these requests seem unreasonable.
I felt a little disillusioned reading the memo. Some people dismissed it, but those are the people who aren’t involved in change. Some people said it was a basic memo you’d get from any corporate job. The issue is, we aren’t being paid to lie to our customers or sell a product. We are talking about our lives, we are talking about all Americans having their civil rights respected. We are simply asking that our police treat us fair or get out of our neighborhoods.
I was really disappointed with what happened after Trayvon Martin was killed. I felt like something else needed to happen. I mean, Zimmerman literally stalked a teenager walking home from the store on his phone. Zimmerman called 911 and was advised not to follow the child. Still he got out of his car and chased Trayvon Martin who tried to run home. Zimmerman literally attacked a child and then shot him for fighting back. He killed Trayvon Martin 70 feet from his back door. Martin told his friend he was afraid, ran for his life but never made it home. I don’t even know how Zimmerman was able to get off.
We all protested. We were all hurt. Black people felt like it was a modern day lynching and we felt powerless. How can someone do this to a child and get away with it? My heart still hurts when I consider all the circumstances surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Today I learned that Jill Stein and Ajuma Baraka were being charged for standing with Indigenous Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I was grateful someone running for office was standing with the people they wished to elect them. I feel our government has started to control us as people, when we should be controlling our government.
I hope more people will decide to write Dr. Jill Stein’s name in on the ballot. I don’t want to vote for the lesser evil. I don’t want someone else to choose my candidate for me. I understand that choosing to vote for Jill Stein is probably the same as voting for Trump from most people’s perspective. I think voting for Trump or Clinton goes against my spirit. I’m tired of the two party system. I’m tired of the lies. I’m tired of being afraid. If Trump wins that is what is fair, if you believe in voting. Maybe, people will wake up and become active.
Maybe we will find, no matter who the president is there is still work for us to do. I don’t know. I’m going to follow my heart. I can’t say I’m upset that politics have become so political where no one tells the truth, when I’m not willing to vote honest.
Jill Stein for 2016 President