Chocolate Stock and Absentee Ballots

I was so excited when I received my absentee ballot. I was worried that I wouldn’t get it in time, I’ll be out of the country on election Day, or at least on my way back home. Do I feel more urgency about this election than those before it? Certainly.

The economy is terrible, and this election is in a historic one, no matter what your politics are.

I turned the multiple parts of my ballot over and over in my hands, making sure I understood the instructions. I called my two kids over to me, and made them watch me fill it out. I made them watch me insert it, first in one envelope, and then the other, and then made them watch me sign the outside across the flap. As far as they know, the election is something that interrupts the Disney Channel. The oldest is more aware, even her friends are talking about Obama. I’s not quite clear to her yet, she just wonders how is it all going to affect her? I give it to her in bits and pieces, on a level she can understand. I don’t expect her to pick a side now, but I know she’s old enough to remember. My actions will make an impact on her, so when she is 18, after I’ve taken her to the voting booth so she can cast her own first vote, the importance of voting is something that will never leave her.

We talked about it for months. Last week I took her to see The Secret Life of Bees, and Jennifer Hudson’s character got beat up because she was ready to exercise her right to vote. My daughter was appalled, and we talked about that too. I was grateful because I hoped that it would drive home the importance of a vote to her once more.

Some of the things I do and talk about are obviously seeping in. My daughter wants to know if she can buy some things that are down in the stock market. She’s already asking me what is a good investment. Granted, she wanted to buy chocolate stock, because she says people will always eat candy. I steered away from this one a little. It was just as Cadbury recalled their products because of melamine.

So imagine my surprise, when I was discussing voting with an earlier early twenty-something that I know. She’s a college graduate, very intelligent, and fun to talk to. Everything you would hope a twenty-something would be.

She didn’t know who Sarah Palin was.
She only barely heard of John McCain.
She had no idea of the issues. The stock market hubbub? She had no idea how would impact her.

As I said at the table with my ballot, I asked her if she was registered to vote. She didn’t know.

She didn’t know.

She didn’t know.

Yes, I wrote it three times.

When I was in high school, I was never old enough to vote. I remember watching those that were turning 18 around me, and we were all excited about the election, and casting our first vote. I already been to the polling place with my father. He took me with him so I could see him do what his parents had not been able to.

This was obviously not my young friends reality. As far as she knew, her people have been able to vote for ages. It’s no big deal. Something she takes for granted.
I helped her look up online whether she was registered and not. She could still print out the registration and get in she took it in person.

She was reluctant. She didn’t know the issues, she said.

I suppose that my own surprise was so deep because not two weeks ago, I sat in the hair salon, listening to the conversation around me. A young, African-American girl came in to get her hair done. Her stylist asked her, are you all registered and ready to vote?
In a valley girl voice, this college student laid down the science about McCain. She didn’t like Obama. She was excited about Sarah Palin. ( This was, of course, before Palin told little children that the vice president runs the Senate). She was registered she said, but wasn’t voting because se didn’t like either of the candidates totally.

Even though I claim to be an Obamican or (republicrat), I didn’t totally agree with her politics, But dammit, at least this young woman was excited about the election. There was mixed company in the salon that day, but the silence that ensued when she said she wasn’t going to vote was heard down the block. Had we all been alone, the Black women in that room, the one’s who had lived some, were poised and ready to educate this young lady about what those had come before her had sacrificed so she could make the choice she was making, no matter how shaky and naive her logic.

These two young people were as different as night and day. But it left me wondering, what would I do to get my children excited about their world? How would I be involved so that my kids would also be a part of the process?

It may be too late for my young friend to vote in this election, but I’m going to help her register. I’m also buying her a book so she can understand why the economy is important to her. And maybe I’ll let my daughter buy chocolate stock.

Comments

blnscott29 said…
Ok that's scary. The first woman all I can say is wow. Being a 20-something myself I can only get wow out. The second women, I don't agree with not voting, a choice and decision still have to be made. Not voting is like running away from a problem...it solves nothing.
Pam said…
You were put into that young girl's life for a reason. It she knew better, she would do better. Now she will do better, and she will appreciate your guidance. Four years ago, I had that same discussion with a forty year old co-worker. She had never voted. Well, after I stood on the mountain top, and gave her my speech about all who died so she could have that right, she registered. She not only voted in the last presidential election, but was the first in line to early vote in this election. So I am happy, I took that time to share with her my life experiences on the importance of voting. I am very proud of her, and you will be proud of your young friend also.

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