2020 is the 100-year anniversary of the passing of America’s 19th amendment which grated women the right to vote. November 2020 is also the first election I will legally be allowed to vote in.
Voting is a privilege. It allows us, normal everyday American citizens, to actually have a say in the leadership we will be following for the next four years of our lives. Women did not win the right to vote until there were 18 different amendments already created and implemented. Apparently there were 18 different things that were more important than our voices being heard. Only in 1920 did they decide that they would make it legal for us to have a say. But something about that is still not right. They decided white women’s voices should be heard. Black women didn’t get to vote until nearly five decades later. And due to racist poll taxing and literacy tests, the days of Jim Crow barely allowed any Black voices to be heard at all. Voting is a privilege that we did not always have.
Still today, there are dozens of countries that make its extremely difficult for women and minorities to vote. Women in Pakistan go through hell to make their voices heard. Even if they decide voting for their future is worth it, the violence and harassment they face when showing up to the polls is near unbearable. In Uganda, 2016, it was so dangerous for women to vote that a control center had to be set up on order to protect them. Kenyan women are not only discouraged to vote, but it is dangerous to be out near the polls for any amount of time. In the U.S. we just go to the polls. We stand in a line and quietly scroll our phones, waiting for our turn. Many might get frustrated with the lines and figure they are wasting their time but at least we are not fearing for our lives and safety. Our opportunity to make our voices heard is a GIFT.
My grandmother used to tell me when I was young, and still now, “If you don’t use your voice to ask for what you want, you are not going to get it.” Americans: hear me out, please. YOU are being given the chance to make your voice heard. This is special, many people in various countries are nowhere near as lucky as we are. American women were not even allowed to vote until 100 years ago. Some were not able to vote until 50 years ago. Our ancestors fought for this right that we are so lucky to have. Do not let them down, do not let yourself down. Get out there and make your voice heard, it is a privilege we haven’t always had and wasting in is not an option.