I woke up this morning EXTRA hype! I fully moisturized my hair, danced to class and smiled at every “I Voted” sticker I saw on Facebook & Twitter. Unlike some USC students, I had to go home in order to vote. Luckily, I live 15 minutes away so my fellow Chocolate Drop & I sped to Compton after class to go exercise our rights…and to get donuts.
We arrived at Athens Park to find a sickly German Shepherd asleep right in front of the door. I tip-toed around it and prayed the whole time that it wouldn’t wake up and give everyone rabies.We waited in an inefficient line for about 20 minutes, which wasn’t terrible because I got to witness elderly Black women, who could barely walk, cast their vote.
We got to my polling place and 2 young Black males were going IN about how the voting process is too complicated while a poll worker patiently explained to them that their designated poll was at a different location down the street. “If I can’t vote here, I’m not voting,” one man said. I cringed. I wanted to ask, “What do you MEAN you’re not voting? It’s down the street…I’LL drive you if I must.” But then I overheard the rest of their conversation. “Man, I can’t go over there,” he said. The poll worker asked, “Why not?” The young man almost teared up and repeated, “I can’t go over there.” It was clear that for territorial purposes, he wouldn’t be safe if he went to that side of town, even to vote. This broke my heart.
There’s no telling how many Black men won’t vote today out of fear. Senseless rivalries are probably silencing a significant portion of an already small minority of eligible Black male voters. Thankfully, the poll workers allowed both of them to vote provisionally, but what if they hadn’t?
We must encourage our Black brothers and do everything in our power to INCREASE THE PEACE in our neighborhoods. I really appreciate the gentleness and understanding that the poll workers demonstrated with those young men. They were on their way out the door when I walked in, but because of her encouraging tone and willingness to help, they stayed and voted in an election that will greatly effect their lives. It wasn’t the time, then, to lecture them on how they don’t need to be involved or associated with gangs, etc. In their time of need and desperation, it was the time to help and she did just that.
This moment made me so proud of my people. Yes, we have a long way to go, but we can’t allow current circumstances to overrule our faith in our youth.
Shoutout to ALL of the African-American women and men who voted today. People DIED so that we could have this right. Thank you for respecting their sacrifices.
Shameless Plug: USC Black Campus Ministries is hosting a Prayer Night tonight. We will pray for the election, the Black community (on and off campus) and for USC in general. God’s gonna be there; You should be, too 🙂 See flyer below for details: