PROTECT THE BLACK VOTE

by Lord Serious

The Black vote in America is constantly under attack. For this country to proclaim itself as the greatest democracy in the world – while at the same time it systematically devises new schemes and policies to dilute and undermine the Black vote – is not only hypocritical, it is also criminal. Since being kidnapped and brought to these shores, our people have had our Black skin criminalized and have been forced to live in chains and shackles by our White enslavers. These White overseers have consistently used the institution of slavery to dehumanize us and to justify their undemocratic suppression of the Black vote!

I remember the first time I registered to vote. It was in the summer time and I had just stopped at the neighborhood community center when I was approached by someone who asked me if I was registered to vote. I was not registered and I really hadn’t given much thought to it until that moment. I was 18 and I would be turning 19 after the upcoming November election. So as I filled out the form, I grew excited about having the opportunity to vote. I didn’t know anything about the candidates or their policies and truthfully, I didn’t care. My mother had told me we were democrats and so I was planning to vote for every democrat who name appeared on the ballot. This was in the year 2005.

As time passed, the election had totally slipped my mind. So when the first Tuesday of November arrived and I seen the line of people waiting to cast their ballots outside of the community center, I suddenly remembered that this was my chance to vote. So I parked my car and I got in line. The experience was new and exciting. There were people electioneering telling us which candidate we should vote for and why their policies would benefit us more than what their competitor had to offer. But they were only allowed to go a certain distance with us before we left them behind as the line progressed closer to the entrance. This wasn’t a presidential election so I didn’t have to wait for hours, I made it inside within maybe 30 minutes. And then, I finally reached the person who looks like they’re the gatekeeper. This person was sitting at a table right in front of the doors that led to the gym area where the voting machines where stationed and they had a list of names. When they asked for my name I proudly told them, “James Rickey Boughton, Jr.” and I gave them my address. But when they asked for my ID I stuck my hands in my pants pockets and I could not locate my ID anywhere! The gatekeeper then asked if I had my social security card with me? But I did not and when I could not produce any form of identification, I was turned away.

I was disappointed and frustrated by the whole ordeal. I had totally forgotten all about the election and the only reason I did stop was because I saw the people standing in line and the signs in front of the community center. But, had I left home with the intentions of going to vote I would have taken the proper identification with me. But I had other business to attend to, so I didn’t have time to go back home to retrieve my ID and then spend another 30 minutes waiting in that long line.

My next experience with voting was just as disappointing as the first. This time, I was detained in the city jail awaiting trial for the charges that eventually sent me to prison for the sentence I’m currently serving today. The 2008 Presidential election was projected to be the most historic election in modern history, and inmates in the jail who had never been convicted of a felony, technically still retained their right to vote. So we were informed by employees of the Sheriff’s department that we could vote in the upcoming election. This was exciting news and I couldn’t wait to vote for Obama and help elect a Black man to the highest seat in office. I asked Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants about when I could I register and I was eventually provided some documents to sign. But no one ever provided me with an absentee ballot or a mail in ballot. And on the day of the election, I asked members of the Sheriff’s department when would I be able to vote and they claimed that the organization who was responsible for organizing the entire thing never provided the jail with the ballots for its inmates. So once again, I found my efforts to exercise my right to vote thwarted by red tape.

Today, we see states like Georgia passing new laws to target and discourage Black’s from participating in the voting process. And I can speak from experience that restrictive ID laws do discourage people and interfere with their right to cast their ballot. Furthermore, mass incarceration (our generation’s version of modern day slavery) has been used to deny many Blacks access to the ballot box. As I’ve shown you from my own personal experience, I had been denied bond, therefore, I was being detained in the city jail before I had even been to trial. I had never been convicted of any felony prior to the 2008 election, and I had every right to exercise my right vote. But due to what I believe was voter suppression being committed by the Sheriff’s department, I was denied access to the ballot. So if laws are being passed that will make these kinds of undemocratic practices illegal, then I think they are very necessary to protect the Black vote.

Lord Serious is an author, a blogger, and a podcaster. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook at Lord Serious Speaks and you can learn more about him by visiting his website www.LordSeriousSpeaks.com.

Just Maybe

Just maybe,
if I wasn’t considered 3/5ths of a hue-man being
and stripped of my nationality and creed by Europeans,
my right to vote would not denied or abridged,
my citizenship would not be secondary to his.
I would not be treated apparently with racial disparity,
my vote is my voice, my moment of clarity.

Just maybe,
if I knew the power of the vote before imprisonment
and realized the inability to vote was a hindrance
I would not be looked at as insignificant.
Just maybe, I would be treated with equality,
and not defeated by poverty.
just maybe,
they would understand my people’s psychology.

Just maybe,
if my political views weren’t misconstrued as being racist, or me being bias.
Just maybe, my views come from me being tired,
and me being bullied by Goliath.
What is power, but an illusion driven by force?
What better way to gain control than imprison the source?

Just maybe, if we were able to cast a vote,
It would give the people of the lower class some hope.
Just maybe…

My name is Antoinne Pitt, I am from Portsmouth, Virginia, currently incarcerated at Lawrenceville Correctional Center. I am the author of Thinking With A Purpose, which is a curriculum created to reduce the rate of recidivism and prevent criminal thinking and influences and the author of C.O.A.T (Countering Overdoses and Addiction Treatment) a curriculum created to combat the opioid epidemic that has plagued our nation. You can contact my publisher, Winter Giovanni, for additional information or go to www.infinitypublicationsllc.net to see my bio. You can also support my fight for freedom by signing my change.org petition, or writing a support letter to: the Secretary Of Commonwealth, P.O. Box 2454 Richmond, VA 23218- 2454.

Peace and Blessings.

Prompt: The Incarcerated Vote

HR 1 is a voting rights bill that if it was passed in its original form, would have restored the rights of incarcerated people and ex-felons to vote in federal elections. The bill has long been amended solely to restoring the voting rights of ex-felons, but it also brought attention to another intriguing aspect I’m sure most people probably don’t know.

For centuries at the behest of the white establishment, minorities have been disproportionately policed, jailed, and imprisoned. Beyond stripping the lives away from young black and brown men in this country, states have found ways to actually profit from putting minorities in prison economically evidently, but more interesting, politically.

HR 1 identifies a law that allows counties with prisons to have people they house counted toward that county’s population on the U.S. census. Thereby pilfering the population of multicultural, urban (largely Democratic) areas and adding them to rural, largely white (largely Republican) areas. All the while, eviscerating the incarcerated person’s right to vote. This dynamic is the core of what can be considered as politically-motivated slavery.

With the reallocation of the urban populace to these rural areas, the voice of the people is stricken from a more accurate representation of the people, and is instead granted to a more diluted form of constituents who would be more likely in favor of continuing the trend of mass incarceration, post-millennium slavery, and the further exploition of black and brown people for personal and monetary gain.

HR 1 intends to correct that law and return the population of those incarcerated back to their hometowns… There has been much work in recent legislation concerning criminal justice reform to correct the racist systemic devices that have been used to disenfranchise droves of minorities in America for a majority of its history, however the threat of the old establishment looms over us all, impeding our progression to a more perfect union. Awareness is the first step, activism is the following one.

Know that the bile of racism runs deep, and its effects are subtle. The old guard feared that we, as a people, would become aware, so they withheld education and knowledge from us for centuries. But what they fear most is that, armed with such education and knowledge of self, we would actually do something about it, so they try to break and discourage us, and even pit us against one another. We must understand that we are solely responsible for making sure that their every effort from here on out is made in vain. Times ARE changing. We, at this moment, may not be able to enjoy a world truly free of systemic racism before our time is up, but be sure, our efforts now will be the catalyst for the world our future generations will experience…

I extend my love to each and everyone seeking freedom, not only for themselves, but the world now and the world to come…

Love, peace, and action…
-Q.

Prompt For Incarcerated People: Compose an essay, poem, art, or any other form of creative expression you may have. Think about your experience participating and learning about the political process. Below is a list of questions meant to serve as inspiration for your piece.

  • What is your experience with voting and the political system before and after incarceration?
  • What are your thoughts on voting while incarcerated?
  • How can we change the point of view on letting incarcerated people vote?
  • How has participating in the political system impacted your life?
  • Are you more educated about the system now than you were back then?
  • How would being able to vote change your life?

Make sure to let the people know who you are, where you’re from, and any project(s) you may have or have been involved with so we can promote it. Thank you for your contribution. We are working together to bring awareness to the brilliance they have locked away behind bars.

Thank you to the readers of BrillianceBehindBars.com. Answers to this prompt will be coming in through April of 2021 from those incarcerated across Virginia.