On Thursday I posted a video entitled “Why I Voted for Hillary Clinton…,” it’s a break down on my thought process behind who I voted for in the Democrat primaries for president. I’ve since been accused of clickbaiting, being full of bullshit, clueless because I am lightskin, in dire need of views, called a cunt and a bigot, all in the comments of the video. I promise I’m not offended. More bemused by the amount of people who have so much to say without watching or listening to the content of the video. Or people who watched determined to be offended and overlooked the entire point of the video.

I started with acknowledging that people would disagree with my choice of vote, and I was interested in hearing their opinion in a respectful dialogue. I have no desire to convince, sway or endorse any candidate in this election. Everyone has serious flaws that negate any ability for me to be proud of this election. But my ancestors hard fought for my right to vote, my right to be heard and participate in the foundation of this country. I also understand fully how the electorate works and what the “establishment” controls, which is why I found this video important to produce in the first place. I am not sitting out on a vote when so many have been stripped of their right to vote. I purposefully approach hard topics because I am committed to curating a community, not of singular viewpoints/like minded thinkers, but of women who fully control what it means to be smart. Smart is not preceded by an extended vocabulary, particular diction or number of diplomas from particular institutions. So many Black women make it through their primary education being told in so many ways that they are not smart, and #SmartBrownGirl is my way of handing it back to each one, who’s ever second-guessed their ability to be grand by their own definition. Don’t get lost in the irony of attempting to tell me what or how to be or represent #SmartBrownGirl, as it was never for you to define for me.

The goal is to encourage each person to do their own research, reaffirm and stand firm in their opinions and realize what issues are important to them that impact how they vote for president. For the average person of color in America, as in the average Black person, much of our concerns are not directly controlled by the President. Your county judges, District Attorney, Governor, your State Senate, amongst others are much more directly influential to dismantling mass incarceration, the military-like aggressiveness of police towards minorities, pay wage, and healthcare options. So if you take the time to distinguish why you are “feeling the Bern” or why Clinton is the one for you, then you can better decide how to invest in your local and municipal government in way that will truly benefit your livelihood.

I want to move my audience past regurgitating something they read in a Facebook status. Regurgitating something they simply thought sounds good without any knowledge of the sources that fuel that rhetoric. So much of this anti-any Democrat rhetoric comes from ultra-conservative outlets. Just like I refuse to participate in the take down of Shaun King, even though I ethically don’t care for him, because it was fueled by Breitbart, an ultra-conservative oft anti-BlackLivesMatter website.  Invest in your knowledge and then community. The Margaret Sanger and eugenics story that comes from pro-life outlets, ugh…I will be approaching the egregious topic of  Black people being anti-Planned Parenthood at a later date. Oh, and white people telling me how much Bernie has done for my people and African Americans over all, can kick rocks.

Honestly speaking, I could have voted for either Hillary or Bernie and my reasons would have been equally as shallow. I like Bernie’s speaking points, but I do not believe that he can win the presidency. I don’t feel implicitly right, but I have not been convinced otherwise. I voted based on what Democrat I thought had the best shot at winning the presidency against *any* of the GOP candidates. Before anyone brings up random polls that they themself have never participated in, can you explain how the Republican primary electorate works?

I am okay with people thinking I’m wrong, this is a subjective matter. I could have voted for Sanders, but I would have done that as an iconic vote for social policy that I know Sanders cannot, as President, pass into law. None of the reasons I like Sanders have to do with the actual functions of the presidency. When TheAtlantic is publishing a long form on “The Obama Doctrine,” it’s an essay that’s almost 71 pages not on Barack Obama’s domestics reform but his approach to foreign policy, as that’s where he’s excised his ultimate presidential authority while being jammed up by the GOP controlled Congress. We can debate down the past-hawkish approach of HRC and the ways she’ll be forced to change following the “don’t do stupid shit” mantra of Obama & his national advisors, for hours on end. I’m severely over-simplifying the foreign policy conversation but that is ultimately what swayed me because that is where the President rules.

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What was most astonishing when I voted in Harris County, Texas (Houston) was the over 70+ local positions from State Senators to appellate judges on the primary ballot with over 120 candidates to choose from. The very positions that directly influence much of the social policy we’ve been screaming over each other about for this election, were on that ballot. One can walk in fervent for their choice of presidential candidate but what about the over 70+ other elected positions they had to vote on. Did you simply skip them? Harris County has one of the highest pipeline school to prison rates. That’s not simply a symptom of Bill Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that is accused of leading to the influx of mass incarceration, but the Texas state laws of a similar ilk that have been on the books since 1962. Texas went from slavery to Jim Crow to repressive criminal laws, that have kept Blacks steeped in respectability politics and their “place” as a means to survive. Clinton’s federal law, that has become the easiest shade to throw at HRC, was sponsored by a US Representative from Texas, Jack Brooks and written by our favorite bro’ and beloved vice-president, Joe Biden. So many points to be made here, but the only one I care for is the point of how there are federal crimes which are separate from state crimes and currently more incarcerated state prisoners than federal. Dismantling mass incarceration will take attacking two different systems, of state and federal crime laws. For the most part, federal crime laws in the past 20 years have followed the tone of state crime laws. We can usher in this change by participating in our individual communities and voting for District Attorneys, Sheriff (where it is an elected position), Mayor, State Reps/Senators and Governor.

We can repeat this narrative of the importance for voting in local, midterm and gubernatorial elections with healthcare, education, civil rights, police reform, jobs/employment rates, and taxes.

There’s this undercurrent of people who believe that Obama hasn’t done anything for Black people, and it’s mostly steeped in a misunderstanding of the powers that the President actually holds. Or that the media controls the circus that has become this presidential election, as if we as individuals don’t buy into the hype even if as angry participants. Does something have to go viral before you discover it? We can look to the on the ground work in Chicago, Illinois and Kim Foxx winning the Democratic Primary for District Attorney over Anita Alvarez, to know that the local protesters, activist and the vote matters. It’s not about simply endorsing one candidate but being continually vigilant about the concerns of your community.

Kim Foxx
Kim Foxx, Cook County Democrat Candidate for DA “Those who organized the #ByeAnita campaign say they didn’t endorse any particular candidate. They want to see systemic change and whoever becomes the lead prosecutor for Cook County will be under the same scrutiny and subject to the same protests and campaigns if they do not see the systemic change they are hoping for.”

This election is truly peculiar, there’s so many forces bubbling over, and I just want to encourage everyone to carefully consider the forces that move them. I casted my vote for Hillary with the full commitment that I am going to work on being locally involved. That when I curse out my health insurance, I will also take the time to look into the mechanics that are making it awful for me. That when I say #BlackLivesMatter I’m not also voting to repeal a civil rights bill because I want to restrict trans people, hello Houston. I’m committed to being involved in my community in ways that fit into my lifestyle. We can not individually take it all on. But start with the things that matter to you, healthcare, education, childcare, women’s rights, civil rights or liberties and start small. We are all about encouraging #SmartBrownGirls to redefine duality and flex their diversity as individuals to benefit their community.

Vote. Stay Engaged. And be an awesome #SmartBrownGirl.