The moment is upon us.
Election Day. 2014 edition.
In a journey that’s part legacy—what I leave behind—and part atonement—resolving my poor decisions of the past—I have dedicated a fair amount of my time to registering voters and getting out the vote for Senator Wendy Davis.
This journey would lead me to the discovery of several diverse neighborhoods in the expansive Dallas city limits. It would give me the opportunity to meet a lot of different people. It would also provide a mirror to my own biases, prejudices, and fears. And it would reinforce my fear of big, scary dogs.
Tonight, on the eve of what I believe is the most important election in Texas in my lifetime, I went one more round in another neighborhood. Like another I had walked before, this one was also largely Latino.
Robbed of daylight by the hour-earlier sunset thanks to DST, I walked the unfamiliar neighborhood determined to connect with as many folks as possible—despite the fact that the street lights hadn’t been adjusted to the new time, most peoples’ porch lights weren’t on, and house numbers were hard to see.
And afterward, just like every other time, I drove home tired but also encouraged about the future of our state.
You see, I met a woman who has a lovely home divided into two residences—one for her and her husband and the other for their college-aged children. She met me on the sidewalk and was very interested in what I was doing. She explained how she’d worked an early voting site and marveled at the hundreds of voters each day. About how she insisted her three grown children voted and threatened to not invite them to Sunday dinner if they didn’t. (Two had; the daughter is voting on Tuesday.) About how her parents came here from Mexico to build a new life, start a business, and raise her and her six siblings. About the time they could not pay the gas bill but her mother managed to fix a dinner of sausages and baked beans out on the porch. About how much respect she has for her parents. About how she tells all her friends to “get off their asses” and get involved—for this is their country too. (Wendy, you would like this woman!)
I met a young Caucasian woman (who had big scary dogs) in her 20s who was not on my list. She enthusiastically told me she’d already voted and that her husband would be too.
I met a three-year old little boy who asked who I was then rattled off all four of his names, smiling at me from ear to ear.
I met a Latina who lived in a home of three generations—her father, herself, and one of her sons. She smiled and listened, telling me she and her father would be voting. Then, she paused, looked into my eyes and said, “Are you from the LGBT community?”
I smiled and said yes, but inside I was a bit wounded and thought to myself: “Gee, was it that obvious?”
She nodded toward my “LGBT for Wendy” badge, smiled, and told me, “My other son is gay. He lives on XYZ street—did you walk over there?”
With a laugh, I told her I’d walked all over the city and had no idea.
She told me he would vote—she knew he would—and then thanked me for what I was doing. I couldn’t help but thank her for taking care of her aging father and for supporting her gay son.
One of my final houses was another multi-generational Latino family. A young woman came to the door as a little girl peered out at me from the arm of the sofa. After explaining what I was doing and asking them if they were voting for Wendy and Leticia Van de Putte, she seemed a little unsure. Then, she flashed a smile and said, “Yes, we’re supporting the lady.” Check!
Now, not everyone was friendly. I knocked on the door of a rather tenement-looking dwelling and the older woman inside yelled, “who is it and what do you want?” I replied that I was a neighborhood volunteer for Wendy Davis and asked if I could leave some materials.” She yelled back, “No, I don’t want nothing you’re sellin’”
Well, can’t win ‘em all.
And this year, we may not win ‘em all.
Yet I know because of my small investment of time spent reaching out to my fellow citizens these past several weeks, people who have never voted before are going to vote. People who voted last time but would have skipped this time will go back to the polls.
My humble contribution—and that of thousands of other volunteers who have given and marched much more—has forever changed the electorate in Texas. Win or lose, we’ve accomplished something significant in this state.
When we are part of a process that elects people who are responsible with our trust, we begin to lose that sense of disenfranchisement. And when we fall short and must endure politicians hell-bent on marginalizing us, we gain resolve that next time, we will not sit quietly by and let them get away with it again.
If you haven’t voted, don’t wait until next time. Go vote! Time is running out.
Oh and note to self: