Voices of Our Tomorrow
Fighting voter suppression in communities of color
By: Magoli Garcia
As November 3 approaches, the American people prepare to make an important decision. The build up from the past four years under the Trump Administration has led to this very moment.
As responsible voters, we need to take into account where being under that administration has left us. Since the start of 2020, we have seen a global pandemic with the United States as a hotspot for the virus, national racial civil unrest over police brutality that continues to occur, all while struggling to grasp how to handle climate change while California and Oregon burn.
There’s no doubt we are living in frantic times. But we must not let that derail us from doing better for each other and for future generations so one day our children will be proud of how we handled these situations.
This spring unveiled a growing plague that caused a national awakening — and it wasn’t just an actual plague but a plague of overt systemic racism. Both of these are affecting minority groups more than others. Latinos and Black people are more likely to be infected by COVID-19, experience police brutality, and to experience voter suppression.
The power of voting in a democracy is a unique one that allows each citizen to choose what they believe should be implemented. Voting in an election affects everything in our community from a local level, such as our schools and paving our roads, to a national level, such as taxing Wall Street or providing affordable healthcare.
But due to the historical oppression, minority groups have faced in this country, there have been many attempts to silence their voices. Since the times of colonization of North America, people of color have experienced suppression in almost every aspect of life — economic disenfranchisement, housing discrimination, voter suppression, healthcare discrimination and over-policing of their communities. But, if brought together, the power of these groups can be unstoppable.
Historically, voter suppression has been heavily focused on racial minority populations. Because of historical racial holdbacks, people of color continue to face disparities today. The Natives were killed for their land, bringing them to near extinction. Africans were brought here against their will as slaves to work on plantations and weren’t seen as humans, let alone citizens. The Chinese were completely banned from entering this country and Mexicans lost their homes because the early American settlers deemed themselves entitled to their land and used a religious doctrine known as “Manifest Destiny” to support this expansion.
Within each racial and ethnic minority group within the U.S, there are omitted histories of how each have faced direct voter suppression, which has now become institutionalized.
Systemic oppression has impacted the voting behavior for minorities in this country throughout history and continues today.
According to a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in 2017 Latinos, Blacks and Native Americans were up to four times more likely to experience discrimination when trying to vote compared to non-hispanic white Americans. Because voting is so intersectional it can affect everything in our communities. That is why it is so important to vote this year and fight against voter suppression.
This is why, for the 2020 election, things must change. We need to change.
If you are over 18, vote. If you are younger than 18, encourage the adults in your life to vote.
Voting is how we end the disparities we face. Voting is how we make sure our little brothers and sisters’ schools get funded properly and that they go on to have a good education. Voting is how we make sure our parents and grandparents won’t have to worry about retirement plans and making ends meet. Voting is how we end generational poverty by enacting social programs that help each other rise.
This is the year we need to show up for those who, in the past, didn’t see the change they desperately deserved.
The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. Youth leaders within the Our Tomorrow network have learned about funding for youth services and are participating in a task force with adults to form recommendations on investments in youth, presented their ideas on sex education to the State Board of Education, and participated in our annual civics fair, Speak Up! Speak Out!
However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face and those they see on the news. Voices of Our Tomorrow is a series of blogs that we will share every Thursday that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions.
These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.