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Some Free Political Advice

The first person who taught me not to make decisions rooted in fear was my graduate advisor Lesli Pace. And as strange as that may seem this was a radical piece of advice for someone like me. A Black woman who’d spent most of her life afraid. Afraid of what? So many things. Growing up in a rigid and legalistic church background, I had come to believe being afraid was just a normal part of life. After hearing her advice, I tucked it into my heart like the treasure good advice becomes throughout our lifetimes.

During this election season I’ve heard too many counterproductive arguments from both sides of the “proverbial aisle.” Mostly, I’ve often felt bullied to vote for Joe Biden. This pressure largely produced by folks who are afraid of what four more Trump years look like. The constant myriad of questions like:

“But what about the Supreme Court?”

“What about Roe vs Wade?”

“Who’s going to protect our democracy?”

My initial reaction to these missives was anger. Anger at a white supremacy politic that somehow wanted me to take responsibility for its shortcomings. How fair is it to continually ask Black people to rescue the state of this Union? Especially considering, “Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.”- Nikole Hannah-Jones

I finally had to settle in my mind and my spirit that no matter what the outcome of this election was I’d be okay. My enslaved and Jim-Crowed ancestors working in tandem as the binding blood platelets stopping the excessive bleeding I experience because of systemic violence. I’m also grounded in what Dr. Eddie Glaude calls the “unimaginable resolve of a people not just to survive in this country but to flourish in spite of it.”

Simultaneously, I recognized I needed to make decisions that wouldn’t further damage those who already experience so much violence in our society. Women, poor, queer, brown, and black folks. I had to honestly reflect upon the existing protections I had that many wouldn’t. Because the truth remains, my education and socioeconomic status provides me with securities many cannot access. For example, the media literacy I have that allows me the “read between the lines” of politicians and absorb the technical language of policy is rooted in my formal education.

Today, I feel comfortable with all my upcoming ballot choices. My choices are not rooted in feelings of coercion, hatred of one political candidate or massive hope in another. My hope will never be in any one politician. My faith will always reside in an ethnic of shared governance, communal reliance, and accountability.

My advice as we get ready to complete our ballots during this election season is to remember fear is what’s gotten us into this colossal mess.

Fear of immigrants

Fear of “terrorists”

Fear of socialism

Fear of changing demographics

Fear of change

Fear of “others”

When I cast my vote this week, fear won’t be anywhere in the equation. And if you find yourself voting with fear at the precipice of your mind, I suggest you sort that out before saying yes to anyone or anything.

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