This is not my vote

I have a very frustrating day trying to be politically active. Mondays tend to be a long day for me anyway. I start my day at 4.45am. Get off work. Go to the gym. Work out. Then change quickly and run/walk to train station. Pray train is on time. Get on train. Get to campaign office. The transition between end of work and campaign office is 90minutes. I have been about 10 minutes late once or twice. Then, I pray that we actually know what we are doing. This has been my Monday for the past 4 weeks or so.

I am not complaining. I am ranting. Is there a difference. I don’t know. I just know that I am home on the verge of tears and I can only write about how I feel now. I am tired. I am hungry and I am heartbroken. Okay, maybe I am a tad bit dramatic.

Monday has become a dramatic day. From crying spells on the phone with my friend because I am too exhausted to find my way home to feeling abused and ill-used. The day really started to go down the drain when I arrived at the office and realized we were understaffed. The regular coordinator was no where to be seen. Campaign staff were closed off in their office. I am sure they were doing important work.

And I sat there unsure of what to do. I actually arrived on time today so that made it doubly disappointing to sit there unoccupied while everyone sang a chorus of I don’t know. Oh well, its a small campaign office. Things are what they are.

Okay, let’s get on the system and start dialing. I seem to get a series of bad calls. From the yelling on the phone to the “I am having dinner!” Please don’t be picking up your phone while you are having dinner. If your time with your family is truly sacred, you would disconnect from your phone and focus on the meal.  My calling is not the problem. Your answering the phone is the problem.

Then there was the “Oh, I don’t understand you!” crew. The man who exclaimed, “are you speaking Spanish?” That just further annoyed me. But my day was truly done when this old woman decided to tell me to “speak softly” What the fuck does that mean? “Speak softly” That phrase/statement rubbed my soul the wrong way.

This is not the “OMG! I am volunteering, you should not talk to me that way.” This is the “I am a young black woman trying to use my voice and be politically active” rage. This is the “I feel diminished because no one else got told to speak softly!” This is the “I feel embarrassed I got told to speak softly.” This is the “are you telling me that I am too much” rage. This the “I feel embarrassed to be told that I am loud or too harsh” rage. This is the ” you just took a happy place and turned it into a place of anxiety” moment. This is the part where I don’t want to return. Can I quit? Does it look bad on me if I quit now because I can’t handle this.

Maybe I am over-reacting.  My first instinct is to quit. Walk away. Who cares? But my sister said to me at the beginning of my shift, “Do Your Part.” I will do my part even though I know I will probably be anxious for my next shift.




The Novice

Voter's trustI have always been intrigued by politics. Maybe this is the heritage of growing up in a country that was not quite a democracy.  A country that see-sawed between regimes of brutality and corruption. As a child I watched power come and go. I heard about elections and coups. Somewhere between the whispered voices of the populace and the crackdown of the henchmen, I became intrigued with politics and the political process.

The thing that happens when you immigrate though is that you lose one home without quite being at home. I was not in Nigeria to vote but I was not American to vote even as I attained my majority. So a few weeks after my 30th birthday next year, I will be casting my first vote in a nationwide election. I am still debating if I should vote in the primaries since I am a registered democrat.

Now that I am a voter, I find that I am afraid to exercise my power. Back in the days of green card, it was easy to give money. I gave money to Barack Obama in those days. I talked off my mother’s ears about the American politics. That was easy. Being a voter, for me, is hard. To cast my one vote is to say, “I trust you to represent me, to make choices that represent my best chances.”

Maybe my anxiety as a first time voter is more reflective of the current political environment. I see one side with crazy voices. Another side with sensible voices but bland stories. I find that I want to be inspired. Not by the thoughts of the first female president or the first socialist government. I want to look at the candidates and see America’s hope. If  I am honest, I am not much inspired by the candidates. But as a voter, I am forced to choose from a set of imperfect options.