Opinion | I voted selflessly, and I hope you did, too

Opinion+%7C+I+voted+selflessly%2C+and+I+hope+you+did%2C+too

Brylane Hay

When I voted Nov. 3, I voted for myself. I cast my ballot under my name for the candidates I think would be the best for the job. But when I filled in those circles, I did so with the voices of the unheard in my ears, the faces of the unseen in my eyes, and the oppressed and downtrodden in my heart. I chose to vote selflessly. And I hope you did as well. 

When I voted, I voted for the enslaved Africans who built this country. I voted in honor of them and the horror my country put them through. I vote for the stolen children and the separated families. I voted for their descendants to receive the reparations so long denied to them. I voted for the Underground Railroad, the secret codes in original spirituals, the culture they built for themselves and their descendants. When I voted, I voted with the tenacity of the enslaved Africans who built this country. 

When I voted, I voted for the Indigenous peoples of this country who truly discovered this land. I voted for the people who survived repeated attempts at genocide. I voted for the tribes lost. I voted for the broken families and lost culture. I voted for the stolen land and stolen dreams. I voted for the children taken away and put into boarding schools to teach them to be ashamed of their culture. I voted for those who died defending their culture, their land, their people. I vote for their refusal to lose themselves to the haze of white supremacy. When I voted, I voted with the strength of the Indigenous peoples of this country.    

When I voted, I voted for the suffragettes who earned me my right to vote. I voted for Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all of the other women who never got the chance to cast a ballot. When I voted, I voted with the determination of the suffragettes who earned me my right to vote.

When I voted, I voted for the LGBTQ+ Americans who led a civil rights revolution. I voted for those cast to the fringes of society, those who could not earn a paycheck or have a drink as an openly LGBTQ+ person. I voted for those whose love could not legally be depicted on television or in movies. I voted for Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera who jumpstarted the Gay Liberation Movement rioting at Stonewall. When I voted, I voted with the pride of the LGBTQ+ Americans who led a civil rights revolution.   

When I voted, I voted for the great state of Alabama and all her people. I voted for more than 800,000 of my fellow Alabamians who live in poverty. I voted for the 8% of Alabamians who are barred from voting because of felony disenfranchisement laws. I voted for our great universities and our beautiful landscape. I voted for people who will protect them. When I voted, I voted with the enduring spirit of the great state of Alabama and all her people.  

When I voted, I voted for the millions of people living in authoritarian regimes. I voted for the people of North Korea, of Azerbaijan, of Saudi Arabia, of China, of Russia. I voted for all the people living in authoritarian regimes who cannot vote in free, fair elections, and I voted to ensure you and I do not become one of them.   

When I voted, I voted for the future generations who will live with my decisions. I voted so our children have a clean environment to grow up in. I voted so Black boys are not murdered in our streets by police and disappear into our prisons. I vote so our girls receive equal pay for equal work in any job they choose.

When I voted, I voted for John Lewis. For the man whose skull was cracked for this precious right. For all Americans who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of liberty.  

When I voted, I voted for Ruth Bader Ginsberg. For her life and legacy on our highest court. For all women who paved the way for me and for you. 

When I voted, I voted for Nigel Shelby. For the precious freshman from my high school who died by suicide. For all the LGBTQ+ Americans lost to suicide. 

When I voted, I voted for Alexei Navalny. For the man willing to die fighting for the liberation of his country and his people. For all warriors for freedom around the globe. 

When I voted, I voted for my grandmother Mary Butler. For the woman who dedicated her life to improving the lives of others. For all Americans who fought too hard for this country to see Donald Trump destroy it. 

When I voted, I voted for Joe Biden. And I hope you did too.