Voting Is Bullshit But I'll Do It Anyway
I am an American who is not an American. My skin is too brown, my body too female and fat, and I cannot and will not occupy the space that amerikkka tries to coerce me into occupying to belong. I cannot neutralize my physicality enough to make whiteness comfortable with my presence and I no longer try. The truth of my existence here is apparent – I will never belong, and I am only mildly tolerable when I perform the roles white patriarchy dictates. And that is not who I choose to be.
In no space is this more apparent than voting. We have political parties that we are told represent our interests, when really, they represent white supremacy. Their leadership and management are completely white with token Black people and POCs to create the façade of inclusivity. Their platforms cater to whiteness in every way and I am expected to choose between overt and subversive white supremacy to survive. Neither party is invested in Black lives, but the Democratic party is willing to soften its stance enough to attract Black people who are comfortable with the slow burn of the status quo instead of the uncontrolled wildfire that is both the Republican Independent parties.
The Democratic party feeds itself lies of being progressive and liberal, yet they continue to push anti-Black agendas, support prisons, resist reparations, and seek to maintain a system that is corrupt to its core. But the democrats are willing to outwardly lie about their liberalism and dedication to civil and human rights, even while they support policies that undermine all that. They call it compromise. They call it meeting people where they are at. I call it maintaining the white patriarchal supremacist status quo that keeps those with power in power while it continues to exploit and destroy anyone resisting its efforts.
The Republican party has stopped hiding its powerbase and motivations. They are staunchly pro-white men and don’t give a fuck about the optics anymore. The Independents continue to lie to themselves about their allegiance to the status quo while patting themselves on the back for being “free thinkers.” The common thread through each of these political factions is white patriarchal supremacy, and the only reason they deny it is to gain support of Black voters.
It’s frustrating as hell to only be acknowledged when we’re needed by white people. I know Black people fought and died for the right, but ultimately, it’s the ability to weigh in on my own demise. America considers itself a white country and white people don’t care about Black people unless we’re useful to them. Be it as labor, art, savagery, sex, mothering, medical experimentation, punching bags, creativity, cool points, white saviorism, or to convince themselves of their liberalism, white people use Black people and Blackness to enhance their lives with no regard for what it does to us. We are walking, talking embodiments of a horrific social experiment that has fucked us up for hundreds of years and even now have our fucking survival pillaged and exploited for the entertainment and consumption of whiteness. And I sit in flux wondering what I can do to end it, other than dying. I don’t see an out; I see a constant fight until I can’t anymore and all in hope that those after me won’t have to live through the shit I’ve experienced and have it better.
And that is one of the reasons why I vote. Because the slow burn gives future generations a chance, as opposed to the mass purge the aggressive white supremacists seem to want. In the meantime, I burn in the fires of their rage and perceptions of superiority, constantly putting my well-being at risk while partaking in oppressive systems that continue to harm far and wide, constantly aware that I’m doing harm while hoping it’s not for nothing. I ease my distress through small actions: distancing myself from the horrors of life in this country, working on building an ethical online identity, finding work, and seeking joy in some way…while trying not to feel guilty over enjoying activities in which others cannot participate…It’s an uncomfortable space. But it’s the one I can live with for now.
It was while participating in one of these events discussing our need to challenge white male narratives and not assume the speaker is the hero that I encountered a young white man who proceeded to tell me about how important it was to educate Black people and mobilize us for the polls. It took a lot for me not to flip my shit because there were so many assumptions about why Black people don’t vote and it was swaddled in the inability to understand that voting doesn’t empower Black people. It doesn’t better our futures. It improves our chances to survive a bit longer, but no political platform short of outright dissolution of the current system with the intent to build something completely different and not rooted in the ideals of amerikkka will care for Black people. Voting doesn’t actually help us do more than endure. Improvement is not on the agenda and almost every political candidate has said that. We’ve been told on multiple occasions that the needs of Black women and Black LGBTQIA+ people are too revolutionary, too aggressive, too challenging. That we need to be patient and wait for the right time. In the meantime, we die. We suffer. We kill ourselves to escape the predetermined role whiteness holds for us. How many more of us need to die from stress, police violence, domestic violence, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia before it’s not too radical for any political agenda? Politics is about prioritizing identities and then bargaining what oppressions to trade to appear humane.
It’s fuckery. And the ultimate fuckery is the way voting assuages the white guilt of those who won’t fight for real change. When we vote and the candidates we supported go back to openly prioritizing white supremacy, like Roy Jones and Keisha Bottoms did after winning their elections, our vote is seen as co-signing on their bullshit and condoning our abuse and oppression. We voted for this, so it must be okay, right?
No. That’s what we mean by systemic. It transcends individual identity and contributes to the overarching agenda of policing, gentrifying, prioritizing white businesses and white needs at the expense of everyone else. Don’t tell me that Black people don’t understand voting. We understand that no matter how much you say it, we are not full citizens capable of participating fully in this country. Black people voting serves to make white people feel like we’re choosing to be oppressed, rather than actually addressing the ways we’re discarded and brutalized by the mechanisms and the actual beneficiaries of amerikkka – white people.
So, rather than look at Black people, specifically Black women and non-men, as your fucking saviors and social conscience, how about white people fucking revolt. You see what’s happening. You see this shit administration front loading every power position with people who openly seek to oppress everyone who isn’t like them. You see the dismantling of even the most superficial appearances of human and civil rights, and yet, nothing changes. Not even the narrative where you blame the oppressed for their oppression.
I keep saying “do better” but I know better now. I know the only way things will change is when every other group of the oppressed is either dead, imprisoned, or fleeing this country and the administration has no one left to attack but poor white people that you will begin to give enough of a fuck to say or do anything. I understand that until your skin is in the game that you don’t see a problem. I’ve seen it all my life and I’m losing my capacity to hope for anything better.
But I will say this: Stop acting like Black people are here to save you. Many of us are ready to lie down and just let shit happen because we can’t keep being the only fighters in this war that only makes white people and non-Black people of color comfortable.
It’s time to fucking save yourselves. But I’ll still vote. It’s the absolute least I can do.