My daughter voted for the first time this morning! We got in line at 6:50am with our masks and our Starbucks. We knew we had a wait ahead of us. It took two hours. If we hadn’t resisted the urge to sleep in, it would have taken even longer. I know voting shouldn’t take this long, and I know there are people who would have preferred we stayed home. For a nation that prides itself on being “by the people and for the people,” the United States has a long, messy history with voting and who counts as “people.”
The Civil Rights Bill of 1866, penned three years after the Emancipation Proclamation, gave newly freed African-American men the express right to vote. That didn’t mean it was even reasonably easy, and it didn’t include women. Because of strict state rules known as the “black codes,” Jim Crow laws and white terror, often at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, many black people couldn’t exercise that right. It was nearly another hundred years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which banned literacy tests, legal exams, poll taxes and other methods used to disenfranchise black voters.
Women’s rights were a long road as well, culminating in the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920 which gave women the vote. It would be another fifty-four years before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 gave women the right to open bank accounts. I would have been six years old. Every time I see that date it shocks me. Freedom is slow and fragile.
In 2013 the Supreme Court struck down an important provision in the Voting Rights Act, making it possible for states to change their election laws without federal approval. The results of this have played out in Georgia where 560,000 voters were removed from the rosters for a variety of reasons, making it harder for qualified citizens to vote. This disenfranchisement caused Stacey Abrams to “lose” the governor’s race in 2018. https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/10/29/georgia-voting-registration-records-removed
All of our progress came from protests, and the back-pedaling happened when we took our eyes off the prize with a false sense of security. The path forward has always been paved with street protests demanding government do what is right “for the people and by the people.” The past few years I’ve wondered what would make people pour into the streets. I’m glad I’ve lived to see the day.
I’m proud of my country this week. I’m proud of everyone young and old who stepped up and stepped in – to march, donate and spread the word to end police brutality and institutional racism in this nation.
George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis created a unique and perfect storm in a world on pause from quarantine. His death was so egregious it sparked empathy and outrage from people who would traditionally offer explanations instead of compassion. Perhaps, because the world had paused, we were able to clearly see the need for global justice.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the “butterfly effect” as “the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, from the notion in chaos theory that a butterfly fluttering in Rio de Janeiro could change the weather in Chicago.” George Floyd’s death created a butterfly effect. Global outrage has ricocheted around the world.
We are all butterflies with the capacity to create massive change through small contributions. Voting is a perfect example of this. One vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 just might change the world.
Watching the world protest injustice and rally around a cause makes me glad to be a global citizen. Today, as George Floyd is laid to rest, I wonder what else we can accomplish if we stay focused. The planet needs us. Our fellow earthlings need us.
March, volunteer, donate, vote.
Stay the course.
I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. This photo is me and my mini-me this morning at the polls. I will be interviewing her and a friend on Thursday for my first edition of “The Butterfly Effect: Conversations for Black Women to Soar.” It will be my first YouTube post and I can’t wait! If you’d like to see my latest interview about my upcoming self-help memoir, Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings, check out the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNtGBpJZK6c