As I am reading an article today in the NY Daily News about NYC highschools teaching civic lessons and encouraging those who will be eligible to register to vote to register for this years election I am struck by the bias.
"Where I come from we didn't have the right to vote," said Dudley, 18, referring to her African-American relatives who grew up in the Deep South. "I wanted to make sure that I voted as soon as I was allowed."
After the Civil War, (1871) the Constitution was changed allowing black men the right to vote. The Union Army enforced this right for twelve years after the Civil War.
Look, I am not discounting the treatment of blacks in this country at this period in our country's history. Granted after the soldiers left there was a long period of intimidation. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS YOUNG 18 YEAR-OLD SAID. And apparently that is not what was taught.
And it's this very biased thinking that leads to systemic racial divides, anger and non-analytical thinking.
By Dudley's thought process then from where I come from WE didn't have the right to vote either...and then we get into a pissing contest of who is more right about who was more disenfranchised. Since it wasn't until 1920, after my grandmother was born, that I as a woman had the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified.
And it wasn't until 1961 that those living in Washington D.C. could partipate in the voting process for President, black, white, male or female.
In RESPONSE to the illegal acts of discrimination in the south against blacks trying to vote, in 1965 the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization was enacted, providing federal enforcement.
But let's take this a step further. If you're 18 then from where YOU come from YOU didn't have the right to vote either. All the more reason at 18 to make sure now that you have the right to vote at that age since 1971 you should use that right.
It's important to remember our history. ABSOLUTELY! But it is equally important to understand the context, meaning and lesson. Pulling ONE word or one part of history out of the lesson and misusing it and turning it's meaning upside down is not a proper education. And to use it to get into a pissing contest of who has been more discriminated against is just plain wrong.
Vote because it's your civic duty to have a say in your own government. Vote because OUR government is OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE. Vote because OUR anecestors fought long and hard for the right to vote and understood the repercussions of not having that right to vote.