I’m writing this from the line, the long line of voters in the basement of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters in downtown Oakland. Its pouring rain outside, and this line is full of happy faces, mostly black, many queer couples, young people…
I have voted before, and I have felt like it was the right thing to do, but I have never before been happy and excited to do it. I feel giddy, personally, in spite of the stories I’m hearing about the hard times folks are having with voting across the country, which will be my work for the rest of tonight, and tomorrow, and however long it’s needed.
But personally? I am listening to folks speak to how excited they are to vote for Obama, and a few folks also excited to vote for McKinney and Rosa – which is totally doable here in California, and I feel that excitement.
I’m 30, and my choices this year were between a fierce black woman with insightful policies and a hip-hop organizing sister as VP, or for a black man who has shown amazing capacity for building movement and solidarity among divided communities, and comes from a community organizing background, and will win the popular vote tomorrow.
These are the darkest of times and yet this is a major shift in the kinds of choices available to me. This set of options is such a beacon of hope, a sign that things can change, even if it’s slowly and imperfect and there are football fields of space for criticism.
Our lovely pollworker just passed by. Her spiel is ‘thank you for coming, we appreciate you, your patience is amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ It’s her first time working an election, she’s been working this basement hall since 9am, and she is smiling.
We’ve been standing line 40 minutes, and yet we are all smiling.
The woman behind me is talking about how everyone is out here. ‘I can’t believe how young this crowd is – usually its just old folks. Old folks voting about public transportation. Now all these people have something to vote for.’ She just saw a friend in line and ran over to hug her, laughing. ‘I’m glad to see you here girl!’
I can’t overemphasize the difference of having stuff to vote for, not just against. This is what it should feel like in every polling place in the country, in every election. Folks smiling in lines that are long because of high turn-out, people excited to be counted, able to come early, educating each other in line. Really talking to each other, alert.
Several people have Videothevote cameras like Jessamyn and I do, and are talking about the site, or Twitter, or Saturday Night Live.
The line is moving quickly. A super cute butch in a Seattle Fire Dept sweatshirt just started filling out her ballot while stage whispering, ‘I’m so excited!!’
I’m at the front of the line now. I’m the ultimate schizo – I hold an analysis that its all about local organizing and progressive society builds from the ground up. I know the system is mostly broken. I think times will get worse before they get better, and I experience deep disappointment with this country I was born to and it’s destructive influence on everything I love.
And yet I also hold space for possibility, for stepping into that space between the big picture and the crucial small very day work to that middle space, where you can see Turtle Island inch forward on that path of evolving. When my parents fell in love, a black president was unthinkable. When I was born a black president was unimaginable.
Now its my turn to vote for love without discrimination, for decriminalization and increased humanity in prisons, for better treatment of animals, for young women to have a safe space for life decisions, for diplomacy and intelligence in leadership, for an end to the war in iraq, for healthcare, for the environment, for my nephew, for my black father and his younger brother who both had heart attacks too early, for all my loved ones, for oakland. It’s my turn to be heard in this slow and faulty process, to bid on a better future in this nasty card game.
It’s my turn to vote for a black president.
It’s my turn.