At a dinner party, the conversations swirl around the room like we’re in a skating rink and I’m a roller derby badass sweeping thru and leaving folks blown away. I talk art, education, social justice, humanitarian efforts, pop culture, music, etc But then, someone mentions the political climate and as if there is a small pebble on the tracks and my wheels have no brakes, I fall face flat. I look up from my spot to see surprised faces waiting for me to answer their questions about the debate, who dropped out, and if I can feel the Bern?
ME: The debate? I think Maya Rudolph was so cute as Kamala Harris on SNL! She dropped out, right? Was it because she felt the Bern?
Seriously, when it comes to politics, I am a mess. I can’t name you more than three candidates at any given time because they text, mail, or scream at me from the tv. I always get confused about who is a donkey or an elephant. The primaries and debates sneak up on me cause I don’t know when they’re happening… and choosing a candidate to support is like asking me to choose between cracked lips or ashy hands!
It can be so overwhelming. Especially when I know that the electoral college doesn’t have to vote the way of the people or that all politicians are lying about one thing or another or that there are some people who will vote against the person they don’t like instead of for the person they do.
I’ve tried to engage in political conversations the last loop around the rink.
Me: You’re a Trump supporter. Okay, why?
Them: Because women are too emotional. Hilary can’t even keep her own husband happy.
Me: Okay. But why Trump?
Them: Because Obama messed this country up.
Me: Again, why are you supporting Donald Trump for president.
Them: …. Because MAGA
See what I mean? I don’t want to be that uninformed idiot. So last year, I was invited to do poetry at a women’s vote rally. I only agreed initially because I wanted to meet Kerry Washington and Alicia Garza of the Black Lives Matter movement. The energy in the room was amazing. So many women of color speakers and people sharing powerful information. Right after I did my poem, candidate for Senate, Ghazala Hashmi came on stage. I had heard of her of course and really was intrigued by this women of color candidate who seemed to deeply care about people. By the end of her speech, I was sold. Not just because she praised my poem during her time on stage (thanks boo) but because the passion she had for art, education, social justice issues aligned with my views.
It was in listening to her speech that I realized I don’t have to understand the political process or even watch every debate to do my part, I just need to decide what platforms are important to me and make sure those in office/ running for office are upholding the promises they made.
A few days later when I voted for Ghazala Hashmi, she was in line behind me and I got a chance to chat with her and tell her how inspired I was. She thanked me for my poem and reminded me of the artist’s role in radical reform; that the artist often has the loudest voice. She won by the way!
Politics still scare me and it’s still overwhelming. But the candidate is not the most important part. The issues are. What is the candidate’s plan (not just stance) for economics, health care, immigration? What do they do in the past and what laws did they vote up/ down on? Do they pander or are they genuine? Are their ideas feasible and do they address the actual issues or just skirt around the outside on the rink?
Political Coordinates Test : Don’t stress the answers but get a better understanding of your take on the issues
The Black Agenda of the Candidates Ranked: A 10 category break down of the candidates plans and it’s inclusion of black people’s needs
I’m not encouraging you to try to be a political buff. I know I could never be. But I do encourage you to get a better understanding so you can make an informed decision.
Cause Trump gotta go!
Point. Blank. Period!