Behind the Jersey: We vote for history, not just to decide our next president

A red graphic used as stock for the sports section.

The time is now. The days are winding down ‘till Election Day, and it is our chance to be the change. Many people choose not to vote because they feel like their vote doesn’t matter or they know too little information about it. So I am here to tell you some reasons why you should vote and why I am voting in this upcoming election and future elections to come. 

Many have turned a blind eye toward terms such as systemic racism and intersectionality. Not everyone is given the same opportunities, just because of the color of their skin. This form of racism has been rooted as a normal way of life in our society throughout history, and it still exists. This is known as systemic racism.

This type of racism leads to discrimination for people of color in many different aspects such as difficulty in being able to buy a house, getting a great education and employment. We all have multiple identities that make us different, and for people of color, their identity can oftentimes lead to discrimination. Even people that may identify differently in gender, sex or religion face discrimination as well. This is intersectional discrimination. 

If you are not familiar with intersectionality, it can best be explained as the connection of disadvantaged groups such as race, class, gender identity and religion and how these identities may overlap for an individual. Being a female student-athlete of color, I am faced with identities that could hinder me from so many opportunities, and it is one of the many reasons that I am voting. 

Not everyone’s history is taught in the classroom. When learning about the history of minority populations, you might have to go out of your way to find it because it is not always easily accessible. What many people don’t know is that the 15th Amendment granted voting rights to African American men in 1870, but women were not included in this. Despite this amendment, discriminatory acts still continued to prevent Black people from exercising their right to vote. Things such as literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses prevented Black citizens from even being able to have the opportunity.

However, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed the legal barriers state and local leaders used to deny African Americans their right to vote under the 15th Amendment. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was ratified in August of 1920. This amendment helped women get closer to equality in several ways. This amendment, sure enough, did not include Black women until about five decades later and was selective to voting rights for white American women. 

Women fought for many things such as job opportunities, education and fair wages. Women began to vote and run for office in an effort to improve government as well as their own personal lives. Both groups struggled and fought so hard to be given this equal opportunity. This gives me even more motivation to vote and the desire to express to others the value of exercising your right to vote. 

Voting is an opportunity that is given, so why not take advantage of it? Voting not only gives us the power to voice our opinions, but it is a way to amplify them. Not voting is simply letting someone else make a decision for you and wasting an opportunity. Voting goes way beyond who will be president: There are so many more areas we impact through our votes such as housing, education and health care. 

Voting is our way of determining our quality of life and setting the stage for future generations to come. Don’t wait to vote and make sure you take the time to research the candidates and what they believe!

Bailey Lear is a junior sprinter on the USC Track & Field team. She is writing for “Behind the Jersey,” a rotating column among members of USC’s United Black Student-Athletes Association. The column runs every other Wednesday.