EDITORIAL: Voting is Not a Privilege — It’s a Right

America has the tendency to talk about the “rights” guaranteed to all American citizens as delineated in the U.S. Constitution and the now 27 Amendments as if they were more like “privileges,” distributed with great reluctance by those who sit high on the hill and live in homes surrounded by verdant lawns and white, picket fences.

Tragically, we often believe the hype and act as if our guaranteed rights are gifts — given only to the select few and with great reluctance because we’ve followed along preset paths of the status quo or have signed up as card-carrying members of what our president touts will “make America great again.”

Again, not so. In fact, as the midterm election approach in less than one week’s time, we must remember that among those guaranteed rights of U.S. citizens, voting serves as one of those most essential and fundamental. And it doesn’t matter what your race, religion, economic status, education or sexual preference or orientation may be. Such differences have nothing to do with our rights.

So, why are Black folk still sitting at home when it’s time to vote? Why are so many young people who have finally reached their 18th birthday and therefore allowed to cast their ballot saying, as if it’s something for which they should be proud, that they don’t plan on voting?

Have we so quickly forgotten the sacrifices, including life, that our ancestors made just to secure the right to vote? Why are we more apt to ignore the fact that voting was not a right that today’s Blacks, the progeny of former slaves, received without a struggle? Do we really care about the policies that shape and will shape the lives and opportunities for our children or our children’s children in generations to come?

If so, we must exercise our right to vote. We must do our research and understand the ballot issues, the varying candidates including lesser highlighted positions like judges — the same men and women who often hold the sway of Black lives in their very hands.

Voting is not a privilege, it’s a right. Make sure you use it because if some Americans have their way, it may one day be taken from you. Then, it will more accurately fall under the category of “privilege.”

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