Our Vote is Our Voice

By Jamia Wilson

In spite of arduous barriers to voting access and free expression, our foremothers understood that our vote is our voice. To that end, it’s up to us to honor their hard-fought battle for the franchise by raising our voices to organize before and on Election Day.

African American women voted at greater rates than any other demographic in the last two presidential elections. But despite our unswerving pattern of showing up at the ballot box, there’s a disturbing message perpetuated by some commentators and researchers that we’ll have weaker turnout this time around. The good news is that we can resist that storyline by using social media to influence discourse, share critical information about polling protocol, and define ourselves on our own terms.

While the reality is that power and privilege determines who gets to speak, who makes decisions, and who is listened to in mainstream media, studies also show that social media controls pathways to news. With over 60% of millennials citing Facebook as their main news source, we have an opportunity to take our ownership of the conversation about black women’s stake in this election to new heights.

While the consistent underestimation and undermining of Black women’s power is old hat, it’s also true that we repeatedly defy and out do those expectations again and again. And it’s up to us to leverage our networks to drive the public narrative, center the issues Black women care about, and ensure that our friends, colleagues, and family members mobilize on November 8th.

We know we’re living in a time of profound urgency, warranting serious action because we’re experiencing it daily. From police violence, to health care barriers, to the drain the wage gap has on our livelihoods, we can’t afford to sit this one out.

From presidential candidates battling it out in late night Twitter battles, to legacy media outlets hosting online forums and live fact-checking debate rhetoric, social media is driving the battle for the White House in unprecedented ways. Whether we spread the word on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, text, or even good old fashioned e-mail, we’ll maximize our impact by leveraging the collective power of our voices.

Jamia Wilson is the executive director of Women, Action, and the Media and a Staff Writer for Rookie Magazine. Wilson is a movement builder and storyteller based in New York City.
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