I think about the power of our vote a lot.
Maybe it’s from hearing my grandmother talk about all they had to endure to have the right to vote. Maybe it’s from being with my godmother, walking up and down the streets of her neighborhood, passing out flyers to inform and get her neighbors to the polls. And I know a big part of it is from listening to my mother and going with her to the polls to vote at each and every election.
I think about the power of our vote because, before School House Rock, I knew there were three branches of government and often the courts were our last defense in protecting our rights, interpreting the sometimes-archaic language of the constitution to reflect our changing society. I learned it in school.
When the election outcome wasn’t quite as we expected, I learned from these three amazing women that you can’t win the game if you’re not in the game. So, I think about the power of our vote a lot.
In my gospel of the importance of voting, I always cite the Supreme Court. SCOTUS is generally the final interpreter of federal law including the U.S. Constitution.
Although we don’t directly vote for these nine justices, our vote or lack of determines who sits on the high court often for decades! They are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate. It’s a lifetime job unless they resign, retire or are removed after impeachment.
It’s sort of like an arranged marriage which has been bumpy, evolved to include women and people of color, been full of surprises (the biggest of late being the decision on LGBTQ marriage). Now, with the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement and questions about how much longer Justice Ginsberg might remain on the bench, all bets are off.
Because the 2016 election was determined by the electoral college and not the popular vote the GOP took power over two of the three branches. It is now poised to complete the trifecta and swing the Supreme Court so far to the right that it’s frightening.
We’ve already seen it happening and the rhetoric coming from the right, regarding this appointment, promises to take us all back to a future where diversity and inclusion advances might not only be severely setback but possibly erased.
Since 2016 we’ve seen words and actions that have us not just wondering what’s next but how bad will things get. And, more importantly, how will we recover to get back on that high ground that for eight years held such great promise for our community.
Each day we have to go to work, interact with people who feel free to say whatever they want and go home to watch this train wreck unfold in front of us on the daily news.
The questions I have heard or been asked most frequently are, “How do we talk to each other when so much hatred has been spewed, so many lies told? And What are we going to do?”
We can’t all pack and move to Canada or stay in our beds with our heads covered hoping it was all just a bad dream while sending up hopes and prayers that sanity will somehow prevail.
Now more than ever it’s time to be visible, to be vocal and to create change.
How do we do this? By being visible every day and everywhere. At our jobs, where we shop, at community meetings, where we worship, at our schools and universities and in our neighborhoods even over the fence in our backyards.
When you hear hate speech or misinformation about the LGBTQ community set the record straight and be out about things other than LGBTQ issues. Don’t let politicians pigeonhole us or write our narrative.
We want protection in the workplace and security for our families, but our fight for equality is far from over. We also want safe schools, good roads, better government, a clean environment and peace.
We exist! We persist! And when our equality and the safety of our families or community is threatened, we will resist!
Let’s amplify our voices by marching in solidarity with women because when they say #MeToo it means #UsToo because we are also victims of abuse, harassment and are survivors.
Let’s amplify our voices by marching in solidarity with immigrants because LGBTQ immigrants seek refuge, asylum from persecution even death and seek the promise of freedom this country was founded on.
Let’s amplify our voices by standing in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter and #TransLivesMatter activists because all of our lives matter. There is no them and us. There must be one beloved community where every voice regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression is lifted up, valued and included.
Let’s create change in our municipalities, in our counties, in our state and in our country by showing up not just at the big elections but at every election to elect fair minded officials to restore a government by, for, and of the people from the schoolhouse to the White House.
Malcolm X once spoke of “chickens coming home to roost.” His remarks referred to an old proverb, actually a curse, going back over half a millennium meaning basically that one’s previous actions will eventually have consequences.
Well we’ve had a group of chickens laying eggs of bigotry, bias, intolerance and inequality for some time now. Now they are emboldened by the rhetoric of a big orange rooster.
It is not the time for us to be silent, to be fearful, to go back in the closet or to give up on building bridges and alliances. Our vote counts. Every vote counts We have to bring every vote — LGBTQ and all our allies – to the polls beginning now and send these chickens home to roost.
Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her weekly podcast “Collections by Michelle Brown” airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. and can be heard on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook at “Collections by Michelle Brown.”