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Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the things I learned from pageants is to 1) Have an opinion and 2) be able to voice that opinion in a way that doesn’t offend anybody. Doing that successfully is an art and a skill that has taken many years for me to develop. It’s an art and a skill that today: is useless.

We are living in a world today where silence is synonymous with racism and bigotry. Not speaking up during Black Lives Matter is quietly saying that you wish the whole thing would just go away. There’s an entire silent group of people, that quietly went to the polls and put someone in office that said that painting Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue was a hate crime. 

The other side of the coin, is speaking up. But in Order to speak up, we have to say things that are uncomfortable. I honestly cringe when people ask me to sit on panels and talk about my experience as a black woman. I cringe because of COURSE I have stories. Stories that I’ve kept to myself because that’s just the way it’s always been. Stories that I know will make someone feel bad. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman or a minority or maybe just an empath, but I HATE when I make someone feel bad. It’s a HORRIBLE feeling for me. I will go to extreme lengths to make those around me feel comfortable, even if my own dignity is at stake. Literally, this is a YIKES for so many reasons. 

Aside from me stepping into my grown woman self, it’s 2020 and that means the stakes have never been higher to stand up for what you believe in. Stand up or be on the wrong side of history. Stand up so that when our children ask what we did during this historic time we can TELL them we took action. People will be uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Say it anyway. If you feel something ringing in the depths of your soul, listen to that and speak up!

YOUNG PEOPLE. IF YOURE READING THIS, GO TO VOTE.ORG AND APPLY FOR A MAIL IN BALLOT. It’s so fast and so easy. And SO IMPORTANT. Send it in as soon as you can in case there are delays. Back in the day, for a black person to vote, they would have to first guess how many jelly beans were in a jar. And if they were wrong, they were denied voting privileges. This is one of many cruel ways to suppress our vote. Now, the sitting president is trying to suppress EVERYONES vote regardless of color by making it as difficult as possible. DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU. We have to vote like our democracy depends on it. We have to vote like our lives depend on it—BECAUSE IT DOES. 

I have to admit that this was the first year I’ve ever watch the Democratic National Convention. And quite honestly, I was glued to the screen, feeling a sense of hope and that maybe the America that I love isn’t gone forever. I’m so proud of that little boy with the speech impediment that spoke on that national stage last night. And I’m proud of Biden for his powerful speech as well. 

The candidates aren’t perfect, but I believe they are what the Nation needs in this moment in history. 

Please, exercise your right— and vote. 

Salisha Thomas


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