I remember how I felt the night Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, I was 15 years old and I thought I was lucky to be alive, that the world was changing and I was a part of it. It was a monumental moment, especially for Black people.
In my mother’s living room, there’s a black and white photo of Martin Luther King Jr.’s face photoshopped beside Barack Obama. I asked my mom about why it’s so meaningful to her, and she told me she hoped her grandchildren would one day see it over and over, “to remind them they can be anything in America.” Then she laughed, “I didn’t pay a lot for it! I only paid $10 for it. But that picture I wouldn’t give it up for half a million! That’s how much it’s worth to me.”
My mom thinks Joe Biden is a great choice for president because of his connection to Obama. , “I’m sure he’s going to get a lot of advice on Obama. they’re very close, they’re still close.” She’s still the same moderate Democrat she was in 2008, but I’ve strayed away from it. I was 19 years old when the Occupy Wall Street protests started. I went on YouTube to see why the protesters were there, camping out night after night, and I learned about income inequality and how the rich were getting richer. And I started to realize there’s a lot we don’t have control over, like our healthcare and how we pay for it, a problem I’ve seen over and over among my friends and family.
My sister Fadeline was in a car accident and even with health insurance wound up with medical debt. “I racked up over $20,000 worth of bills at the hospital I don’t know how,” she told me. And her copays are as high as $75. “It just makes it hard for me to want to go to the doctor sometimes until I'm like more financially better and ready to start going and doing all the appointments.”
During Bernie Sanders’ run for president in 2016, I began to believe in a system where people could go to the doctor without worrying about drowning in medical debt. I started questioning what I’d accepted as normal. So, a year ago, I joined the Democratic Socialists of America. And when Bernie was running in the primary we canvassed and phone banked for him. But four years later, it feels like 2016 all over again: President Trump versus another centrist Democrat.
Some people in my DSA chapter are planning to vote for third party candidates come November, like Lebeau Kpadenou, our DSA co-chair. “I’m not voting for Joe Biden, I’m not voting for Donald Trump. If there weren’t someone running on the platform I believe in, I would not [vote] for president.” He plans to vote for the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. But many of us are planning to vote for Joe Biden. Milo Keogh is also a member of the DSA, “I think I’ll vote for Joe just because Trump is a dangerous guy, but I’m not in a place where I could convince people to vote for him or campaign for him at all.”
I’ll also vote for Joe Biden but I still want more for the country. So I’m putting my political and organizing energy elsewhere, like fighting for a higher minimum wage in Florida. I’ve learned that politics is more than elections and voting every four years: it’s steering committee meetings, education roundtables and having difficult conversations. It’s not enough to just boot Trump out of office and go back to “normal.”