Privilege was a concept I never gave much thought to growing up. As a Hispanic, I passed as white and therefore was treated like my other white peers. As a woman, I grew up in a safe community where I didn’t have to worry about someone following me. As a child raised by a low-income family, I grew up in a loving household no matter the home we lived in at the time. On paper, my life may have been difficult, but I was actually beyond privileged.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for so many other individuals belonging to minority groups. In reality, a majority of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women, people with disabilities, and low income families deal with hardships in the United States that many straight white upper class Americans never have to give a second thought. However, this election season has given me and so many other fortunate Americans just a small taste of what so many other groups, especially the Black community, experience on a daily basis: suppression.
In American history, we (hopefully) learned about the experience of Black Americans and other minority groups being suppressed whether it be through lack of representation in media and politics, harassment from both citizens and public officials, or even murder - such as the lynchings of Black individuals or the genocide of Indigenous Americans. Although we are taught these things, I and other privileged citizens may never fully understand what it is to live as a minority American; nonetheless, this past voting season has opened my eyes to the fears of not having a voice.
As a young person voting for the first time during the presidential elections, I never thought I would have to worry about my vote not being counted. A shadow of fear began to loom as I watched videos of people standing in long lines to cast their ballot, some arriving early in the morning to wait for hours. I heard stories of people never receiving the mail-in ballots they ordered, forcing them to have to find alternative forms of casting their ballot. I read news articles of how unofficial ballot boxes have been placed throughout my home state, California. Voting should be an easily accessible and transparent process, not anything like this.
Receiving an education that taught me the importance of politics, how to think critically, and voice my words, only to face the threat of being silenced during a time that matters most, makes me reconsider America’s priorities. Although I may not have to take a literacy test, or reveal my ancestry in order to prove my right to vote, voter suppression somehow continues to exist today and I feel for my neighboring Black and Brown Americans, for this is their life. I’ve come to the conclusion that my country rewards the survival of the fittest, forcing some groups to prioritize survival while allowing privileged groups to decide what politically fits best.
Hope for the Future
However, there is no reason to lose hope. Due to the immense role social media has played this past year, as well as the number of young Americans able to vote this presidential election, we finally have the power to decide who represents us this year - and our enthusiasm shows., the number of early votes this year already meets half of 2016’s voter turnout, breaking records in cities across the country. With less than a week left, I look forward to seeing our citizens come together to prove that their voices are worth being heard and support one another during this time of uncertainty.