New York had its congressional primaries in June, and I spent a couple of hours standing on a sidewalk corner during evening rush hour on primary day, reminding people that they still had time to vote. It was informative. Every African-American woman I spoke to said she had already voted by that point. Black men and other people of color were generally receptive, even if they hadn’t voted yet, and a number of them asked until what time the polls stayed open. A lot of the white people were scary-rude. It was kind of traumatic, to be honest. I’m still bothered by one generic-looking white-guy-in-a-suit who stopped long enough to yell at me that he wasn’t “inspired” enough to vote and that politicians were all “the same.” Meanwhile, our longtime congresswoman Carolyn Maloney had a first-time challenger that the dude probably didn’t even know about, because why bother to educate yourself when you have all the answers already?
As for me, I’d gone to a moderated discussion to hear Maloney and her rival — Suraj Patel — answer questions so I could make an informed decision and I voted for Maloney. But if suit guy wanted some fresh blood, there was an option for him.
This is on my mind because of the news out of the Massachusetts primary, where Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Representative Michael Capuano. It was the first time he’d faced a challenger since he won the seat in 1998. Capuano actually had a good liberal voting record, and the support of a lot of the political establishment. Pressley, who in 2009 became the first black woman to be elected to the Boston City Council, was far from a sure bet. But she forged ahead anyway, with the slogan, “Change can’t wait.” Now, as the Boston Globe pointed out, “With no Republicans running for the seat in November, Pressley is poised to become the first woman of color from Massachusetts to serve in the US House.”
What an image in our story: Here's Ayanna Pressley's stepdaughter watching her mother claim victory and become the first black woman ever elected to Congress from Massachusetts. https://t.co/1K6KYIiteN pic.twitter.com/XE3jtcx3wm
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) September 5, 2018
The only way nothing changes is when we do nothing to create change. Voting is doing something, win or lose. There are a lot of new candidates for all different offices all across the country, so take responsibility for finding your own inspiration and vote!