The November 8th midterm elections are fast approaching, and it is essential that members of our Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same-gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) community vote. Period. Full stop.
When we have “showed up and showed out” at the polls in previous years, we have upended the harmful plans of the far right and advanced transformative public policy designed to advance equity, uproot racial and anti-LGBTQ+ inequalities, and preserve democracy. We must turn out on (or before) Election Day this year, November 8th. Consider the following issues when completing your ballot.
Voting rights should be at the top of our minds yearly–because there are important elections annually. Over the last year, we have seen elected officials in states across the country strip voting rights, specifically in an attempt to prevent Black and LGBTQ+/SGL people from casting a ballot. 25.3% of Black LGBTQ+/SGL adults could not vote due to being unknowingly dropped from the voter rolls. 55.7% of Black Same-Gender Loving adults and 73.9% of Black transgender adults were prevented from voting due to logistical barriers. Vote for candidates who support making voting more accessible through same-day and automatic voter registration, voting by mail, early voting, limiting automated voter purging, and establishing Election Day as a federal holiday. Until we have the votes needed to change the rule makers, we must follow their rules. As always, your vote could be the difference maker.
Issues associated with public schools, learning, and development are always important, especially considering that children do not ask to be born and are prevented from participating in the democratic process. We have seen parents, school boards, and other elected officials try to prevent young people from adhering to covid safety precautions, talking about their identities or the identities of their friends and family members in school. Books representing marginalized communities are being pulled from libraries and banned in schools. Police or school resource officers (who should not be in schools) can often make schools more unsafe and dangerous for children - especially those over-disciplined due to gender nonconformity and racial profiling.
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Vote for candidates who include protecting and supporting our children by advocating for fewer police officers and more mental health professionals in schools in their platform. Your vote may create the majority needed on your local school board to advocate against the recent wave of anti-LGBTQ+/SGL and anti-Black policies that target our students. Pay attention to who is elected to your local school board, lead the local police or sheriff’s office, and your local district attorney. These positions are essential in creating conditions that keep our communities safe.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade profoundly impacts Black women, nonbinary or intersex people assigned female at birth, and Black trans men who need access to abortion or the other sometimes lifesaving services provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood. This decision also opens the door for other rights won through the courts to become erased from judicial interpretation of our constitution. As you cast your ballot, consider the reality that if they come for us at night, once successful, they will surely come for you tomorrow. Your vote could go to the U.S. Senator whose vote confirms a new Supreme Court justice that will protect the right to choose and affirm the freedoms granted by legal and legislative efforts to ensure equity.
Finally, it is still legal to discriminate against Black LGBTQ+/SGL people in many places throughout this country that we continue to build–without the compensation deserved. The Equality Act will not make it to President Biden’s desk without progressive majorities in both chambers of Congress. Existing while Black, Queer, woman, and Trans and fearing the loss of a ride share, job, house, or education just because of who you are, how you show up in the world, or who you love can be a fear of the past if we do our part everywhere and vote for the best representation possible–sometimes this includes YOU running for office. Yes, you!
We encourage you to keep all these issues in mind as you mail your ballot or step into the voting booth on or before Tuesday, November 8th. Contact your local elections board to request a sample ballot before casting your ballot so you have time to research the people and issues that matter most.
In recent elections, we turned out Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina when few thought we could. We can do it again, plus bring Mississippi, South Carolina, and Florida along for the ride! Let’s make our country’s “Black Belt” the power center of Black America.
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Dr. David J. Johns is the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same-gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.