by Preethi Srikanthan, Student Advocacy Fellow at George Mason University
After Trump was elected as our President, I was in a state of shock and disbelief. After all, despite the counter-arguments about Hillary Clinton, her competency and experience could hardly be denied in comparison. After I had a bit more time to process it, I felt very afraid.
As a woman of color, I worried about my safety and my future. Would my day-to-day interactions start being shaped by this racist culture? Should I start carrying mace or pepper spray around to prepare for physical attacks? Should I start mentally preparing myself for racist comments and insults? When I start applying for jobs, would I be discriminated against because of my ethnicity? Would this affect my career growth and promotions later on? That’s why I feel so strongly about this upcoming state election.
If we have a governor who would support people of color, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and who would veto harmful laws, it would provide a statewide safe haven of sorts under the current administration.
There’s a common misconception among most people that their vote, as it’s only one vote, doesn’t really matter in determining the results. But if a majority of people feel that their vote doesn’t matter and don’t vote, it creates a huge negative impact. At the risk of sounding cliché, I want to tell you that your vote really does matter. In 2013, Mark Herring won attorney general by only 165 votes. Virginia’s governor can either stand up to harmful legislation or allow it. For people who are of a specific ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, Virginia’s governor and his impact may not be very important. But for others, Virginia’s new governor may be the difference between being protected and being attacked, or between being granted equal rights and being discriminated against or even between a governor who considers your needs and interests and one who doesn’t. Honestly, considering this, the decision of who to vote for governor isn’t a particularly difficult one for me. My vote is going to Ralph Northam because he supports immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, gun restrictions, the LGBTQ community, the Dreamers, and an increase in the minimum wage. My vote is NOT going to Ed Gillespie because he doesn’t support women’s reproductive rights, the LGBTQ community, redistricting to end gerrymandering, stronger gun control laws, or Dreamers. I want everyone to have autonomy, safety, and respect in Virginia and that’s why I’m voting.
Protect the people of your state. Please vote on November 7th.