“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Please vote during the midterm elections. This statement is a plea because research is already proving that the voter turnout in the midterms has been lower than in presidential elections as far back as the 1840s. We get it–midterm elections aren’t sexy. We’re not electing a new president, so the interest is slim to none. However, “Women of color are the fastest-growing segment of America’s largest voting block: women,” said Maya L. Harris, author of Center for American Progress report on women of color voters. Harris continues, ”Unleashing their full potential to participate in our democratic process requires understanding who they are, knowing those issues that are most important to them, and identifying how best to inspire them to participate regularly. Issues at the center of the lives of women of color rarely take center stage in the political arena, despite the fact that addressing those issues would benefit the nation as a whole.”
The report found that nearly one-third of the women of color who voted in 2012—an estimated 5.9 million voters—are expected not to vote this time around, and the greatest drop-off—3.6 million—occurring among Black women voters. Today, Black women represent the largest share—43 percent—of vote-eligible women of color and 13.4 percent of all vote-eligible women. This shocking number will only be devastating if we don’t show up and vote beauties.
Stop having the opinion of your vote not counting or both parties are evil and your one lonely vote won’t change anything. This is the mentality that will lead politicians to believing Black women’s issues don’t matter because we’re not fired up about them–we’re not voting about them. The rich get richer because they will always show up to the polls to vote for the issues that affect them. We may not realize it, but we have power to shape human rights and politics to benefit us…the 99 percent.
So let’s get and get to voting ladies. These elections effect us more than we know. Let’s shift the planet! Our voting could change things!
1. We need to fight for our reproductive rights!
Almost every woman in the world has used contraception. More than 99 percent of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. It’s the access to contraception that’s helped close the wage gap for women. In March 2012, Mother Jones reported on a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research on the correlation between the wage gap for women and access to contraception. The researchers found that the use of oral contraception accounted for 10 percent of the narrowing of the wage gap in the 1980s and 31 percent of the narrowing of the wage gap in the 1990s. “The pill provided younger women the expectation of greater control over childbearing, women invested more in their human capital and careers.”
And that’s not all–54 percent of young Black women (18-34) have struggled to pay for birth control. It’s disheartening to know that that the upfront cost of an IUD can cost upwards to $1,000 more than the monthly salary of a minimum age worker. And don’t even get us started on paychecks…
2. We need our hands in the economic security pot.
Equal pay is the number one workplace issue for women. This is not yesteryear. Women are working full time and are still being paid 77 cents to every $1 paid to men for the same work, and that’s even less for women of color! Black women are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid just 45 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. If we vote, we have the ability to shift the unbalanced economy–equal pay anyone? We could give our economy a much-needed boost and increase the gross domestic product by $450 billion. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 could close the wage gap between men and women by five percent. Oh and lower wage workers have no access to paid sick days. And after three unpaid sick days, a family’s ability to buy food is greatly affected. Or better yet, a single mother, who needs to take time off to take care of her sick child or of herself is left with no options for financial survival. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. Go figure. We’re not even going to open up the conversation around prenatal and pregnancy care or pre-existing conditions that marginally effect women, we’d be here all night! But can we change this? Yes we can!
3. There’s more Black people running for office than there’s ever been.
If this isn’t reason enough for you to get up and vote, we don’t know what is! There are more than 100 Black politicians seeking office. There’s so many firsts for Black people (and Black women too) within this pool of politicians. If Mia Love wins, she will be the first Black Republican woman elected to congress. And that’s not all. Terri Sewell is the first Black woman to serve in the Alabama congressional delegation. Alma Adams is the first Black woman to be elected to the Greensboro City School Board in North Carolina. The dreamy Cory Booker became New Jersey’s first Black senator and is now serving as mayor of Newark. If Anthony Brown wins, he’ll become Maryland’s first Black governor. Steve Horsford is the first Black representative to serve in Nevada’s federal delegation. See, we’re in there, we just have to keep us there!
4. We’ve got a chance to gain more support in domestic violence against women.
The Violence Against Women Act has helped more victims report domestic violence to the police and has decreased non-fatal intimate partner violence by 53 percent. Because of VAWA, many rape crisis centers are available to victims and there are better assistance and recovery resources available to victims following an attack. Never before has VAWA been a partisan issue, and it is now. According to the committee, the panel vote marks the first time when it has reported out any version of VAWA on party-line basis. One in four women have benefitted from VAWA, but there’s still major work to be done. With cases like Ray Rice’s being sensationalized, we’re faced with the true effects of domestic violence against women and it’s obvious there’s more legal support women need here.
Feeling the need to vote on November 4th? Good! We’ll see you at the polls!