By Kaitlin Johnstone

Your Vote is Your Voice

I wrote a blog two years ago about why I vote. All remains relevant and yet there is more to add to the list. 4 years ago I can remember a pit in my stomach the size of what felt like a boulder I once lifted in Iceland (don’t mind me as I reminisce being able to actually leave the country and see the world).

As I laid my head down the night Trump was elected I could not help but cry. Family members and friends voted for hate (children locked in cages at the border). They voted for misogyny (p***y grabbing). They voted for racism (death penalty brought back for the exonerated 5). These are just a few examples as to why this man has been wildly dangerous to our society over the past 4 years and how his lack of leadership, willingness to engage in collective harmony, and downright disregard for human life has affected us.

And if this has not directly had an impact on your life, ask yourself why and begin to take a long hard look into your privilege. It has been years that I have been doing so and I still have a long way to go with a lot to learn.

Rewind back to November 2016. When I voiced my hurt, I was told I was crazy, to calm down, what is the worst that could happen in 4 years? Well, here we are friends, almost 4 years later and A LOT has happened. Below I’ll explain to you the importance of my vote this time around and I am hopeful that there are enough people in our country that believe love is love. That of course all lives matter, but not until we place an emphasis on Black lives. That no human is illegal. That women deserve equal rights. And that we should stand together to create change rooted in justice in order to develop a brighter future for all.

I will vote for mothers.  I will vote because I am now too a mother and my daughter deserves to grow up being respected, listened to, and empowered rather than belittled, harassed, and put down. She will believe in being anything she puts her mind to and no man will tell her otherwise. She will be strong enough to use her voice and bold enough to make hard decisions. However, come November I will not just vote with my daughter in mind. I will vote thinking of Black mothers. Mothers who must worry when their sons go for a run. Mothers who must worry when their children get pulled over. If you too are a mother, I want you to think of what worry feels like. How deeply that worry cuts you to your core and then vote as if you as if you lived in a system that does not make the slightest attempt in keeping your child safe.

In fact, it is a system that places irrevocable harm on Black people. One in which 12 year old Tamir Rice was murdered by a police officer for holding a toy gun while playing, yet gives a 17 year old walking the streets with a AK-47 a water bottle. If you have any trouble seeing the need for the Black Lives Matter movement, please read that prior sentence again and again until it sinks in.

I will vote for humanity. Every person deserves the right to live with dignity. Children should not be ripped away from their families at the border (over 5,400 children have been taken away from their family). It’s downright frightening listening to people who reside right here in the "land of the free" dehumanize other human beings. Come November, vote as if your family is being torn away from you. Put yourself in the shoes of another.

I will vote for health. The fact is our country is currently in the largest health crisis in 100 years and clearly other countries, and even individual states, have taken steps toward keeping its citizens safe. Unfortunately, I live in a state and, more broadly a country, that has shown no leadership during this pandemic. People I love are at very high risk. People I love are being forced back into unsafe working conditions while politicians downplay the severity of the situation and politicize something as simple as wearing a mask to show human decency and kindness. It did not have to be this way. Caring for the health and safety of another human being should be at the forefront of all our minds; however, leadership has caused a divide in what it means to care for one another.

We are living in such a highly individualistic state of survival that we can’t see past our bubble until something horrific happens to someone we love. We feel that going to dinner in an enclosed area with 100 strangers is safe merely because we feel fine, all the while potentially harming others in the process. We are being told to lie at our place of work because our employers cannot run the risk of the outside world knowing someone has been affected by COVID. And please know when I say this, I am particularly speaking on behalf of a state that has failed miserably at controlling the spread of this virus. I also recognize there are many things that are deemed safe, but being unmasked in tight spaces indoors with a bunch of strangers is not. You can still live a meaningful life without putting others at risk. We need to vote with our elders in mind, our immune compromised, our front-line workers. We need to vote as if this virus has touched your life even if you're lucky enough to not be impacted. 

I will vote for love.  Every person in this country deserves to love who they love and have laws put in place to protect that love. Every person in this country deserves to feel as if they can be comfortable and supported within their identity. We all deserve to feel safe and welcomed at our jobs, the grocery store, the beach, etc. and unfortunately that is not the case. Trump has reversed many policies put in place to protect the LGBTQ+ community and come November I will vote with that in mind.

When you arrive at the polls, ask yourself will my vote encourage love or hate, will my vote continue to oppress or liberate, will my vote protect or destroy, will my vote unify or divide? I hope that you can take a long hard look into the answers to these questions and rest well with your decision.

With the election in mind, Jenny and I have teamed up again to bring you another collaboration. $5 from the sale of Your Vote is Your Voice tees and $3 from Your Vote is my Future kids tees will directly be donated to Michelle Obama's non-profit organization When We All VoteWhen We All Vote is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. Join us today in making our voices heard and instituting change.


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