Thursday, February 21, 2008

On that Finding Nemo feeling

Essay portion: These college students are marching for the right to vote. Q1. What year was this picture taken?

Okay, so there's this feeling you get (well, I get) that's kind of happy and sad at the same time. It's the kind of feeling you get watching a family-friendly film where circumstances are really crappy and the underdog endeavors to persevere anyway. It's the reason I cried at Finding Nemo (well, that, and some unexamined daddy issues), and it's the reason I almost teared up to read this:
Unfortunately, it appears that the BRACKETTexas early votingBRACKET system is rigged so that convenient polling places are only available to some people, which changes the demographics of who actually votes. Surprise surprise, one of the targets of such abuse is a historically black university outside of Houston called Prairie View A&M. Their county is only providing two voting machines, and they are located away from the university, so voting is convenient for townies, but not the students. The students, who have been victimized by this sort of disenfranchisement tactic before, decided to stage a protest.

1,000 student voters with 1,000 friends and allies walked the 7 and a half miles from the school to the voting booth and stood in line. And they will vote two at a time this way until they all vote or until the county gives them more machines.

Obviously, it's really inspiring to see students unite like that, especially when I grumble through the two-block meander to my polling place if it's raining out. I can't think of the last time anything impassioned me enough that I would have walked seven miles to make my point, and if ever there was a worthy cause, this one would be it. My heart swells in a Rudy-as-directed-by-Spielberg-and-scored-by-Williams sort of way.

But at the same time, at what point in the twenty-first century should any group of students be compelled to march in order to preserve their right to vote? Sure, they still do have the right to vote, presuming they can find transportation to the distant polling station and the time to stand in line to use the two voting machines available to the entire county. At the library where I vote (remember, the one two blocks from my apartment?), there are four stand-up voting booths and another two roll-in booths for the physically impaired, and I've never, even in the busiest times, had to wait in line at all to use one. I have three times the opportunity to vote just in my district as these people do in their entire county, and then they went and put both machines where only the townies could get to them.

I want to cry because people still believe that racism doesn't exist. I want to cry because it's so freaking unfair. I want to cry because seven miles is a freaking long distance to walk, and you can tell that some of those folks have real shoes on, and that had to have been really uncomfortable. I want to cry because there should have been more than 1,000 friends and allies marching with them. But mostly, I want to cry because a bunch of students marched a cumulative total of 14,000 miles because voting was that important to them and they weren't going to be denied the right to make their voices heard. And that's worthy of a John Williams score.

No comments: