An open letter to election 2012

Dear election 2012:

Wow. It’s been a crazy couple of months. I have seen a lot of anger and hatred in that time. I have heard a lot of people say things that shock me coming from their mouths. I guess you never really know a person until they show their anger and hatred. 

I have also seen a lot of people come together for what they believe in. Working together, supporting each other, giving to each other. I have seen a lot of volunteering going on, a lot of people concerned about the rights of OTHERS. Not just their own rights. The rights that they want others to have. 

I always wondered what those white college kids felt like when they got in cars and drove down to the south in the 1950’s and 60’s to sit in diners with black kids their same age. To register black people to vote. To march with them and be jailed with them. I always thought “it would have been so much easier for them to stay home, to not make their families mad, to not be physically harmed and to not be outcasts, what made them do it?” Of course I always hoped I too would be one of those people, but I never knew for sure. Until now.

I have a whole lot of family and friends who think gay marriage is wrong and evil. Who thing being gay is wrong and evil for that matter. I don’t believe that. I believe that people are all people – gay, straight, black, white, brown, red… we are all the same at our core. I believe that hating someone (or loving them in spite of) for one small part of their life is sickening and wrong. That’s what I think is wrong and evil. Yep. I said it. Hating someone, thinking they are sinning or evil, wanting to prevent them from having the basic rights that most people enjoy in this country, because they happen to have a certain characteristic is wrong. 

I think it was wrong when women weren’t allowed to vote because they had a vagina. I think it was wrong for black people to have to use a different door and sit in the back of a restaurant because of the color of their skin. I think it was wrong to deny interracial marriage. I think it is wrong to deny someone employment because they have an accent. I think it is wrong to discriminate against someone because they have less money than you. And I think it is wrong to deny gay people the right to marry just because they happen to love someone who possesses the same set of sex determining chromosomes. 

I know, now, that I would have gone down to the south in one of those cars, given the chance. Would have marched and registered voters. I have stood up for what I believe in despite my family and friends’ opinions, I voted for civil rights for others yesterday, and I am proud of all of the other people who did too.

I have also been privileged to reaffirm my passion for women’s rights in the last year or more. I have always been interested in and passionate about women’s issues. They came to the forefront this election in many ways and I was thankful for the chance to discuss them with many people, to explain my positions and why I have them. I am thankful to all of my friends who cast a vote for women’s rights in this election. 

Amazingly we saw people of color and the lower class again targeted by voting laws. We saw a surge in the correction and monitoring of voter rights activists. THANKFULLY we saw a record number of people of color turn out to vote this year. 

When people tell me that “they have all the rights they need, so civil rights don’t really speak to them.” I wonder. I wonder how they don’t see what I see. I wonder how they don’t see the giant chasm between the white male upper class and the rest of us. I wonder how it is that they can be so blind to the privilege that allows them not to see. 

Finally, I spoke to quite a few people who thought that it was foolish to vote based on these issues. That the economy is our only concern and that I should not “throw my vote away” on civil rights and women’s rights issues. To them I say that these issues are as important to me as the economy. Also, I believe that the president has done a great job so far in making the economy better and in ensuring that we will continue to improve. He has (despite road blocks at every turn from Congress) made a huge impact in not only the economy but in health care reform and in the rights of others.

I am proud today.

I am proud that I stood up for what I believe in. I am proud my friends and family did too. 

I am lucky and thankful to live in a country that allows me the freedom to express my true feelings. To debate with those I know about them. To speak out against our government, or to show my support as I feel is warranted. I am lucky to be as privileged as I am, and I am happy that I have a chance to continue to break down that system of privilege and help others.  

Election 2012 – you have been a wild ride. And I will never forget the passion and drive you awoke in me.

 

 

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