Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day in My Hood

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Rapper 50 Cent and I are from the same neighborhood. I however, have never been shot; Not even once. I guess Catholic School and hands on parenting really do make a difference. Given the historic significance of this election the media has been predicting Depression era long lines in “urban areas” like mine. I was understandably a little worried, so I drew up a battle plan:

Dress warmly
Wear comfortable shoes
Bring a bottle of water, a book and a folding chair.
Get there early

“6am?” my Husband suggested.
“Are you insane? The place will be jammed with folks who have to go to work.”

Since we have “non traditional” jobs and my parents are retired we had the luxury of waiting until 10am. The gamble paid off. When we showed up to our local polling place, the line was longer than I’ve ever seen it, but it wasn’t bad. It moved. I set my stopwatch and we were in and out in 42 minutes!

It would have been faster if we had remembered what district we were in. (I know. I know. I’m very embarrassed.) I had my ID and proof of address. I even had my passport, but could not find my voter card. Grrr! So we marched off to wait on the information line that was moving quite a bit slower than the voting line. Luckily I spotted one of my neighbors who was done voting and on her way home and I said, “Hey (Neighbor who’s name I can’t remember and only wave to at a distance) what’s our district?”


Again with the dire warnings from the media I was worried that somehow my name had been purged, dropped, removed or otherwise unscrupulously spirited off the voting rolls. I imagined the headline “Local Comedian in Bitter Battle with Election Officials!” I pictured myself engaged in witty repartee with Anderson Cooper, Jon Stewart and Keith Oberman about election fraud and the conservative conspiracy. Move over Joe the Plumber. Leighann The Comic is here. But alas, no.

As I stepped into my voting cocoon, I eyed my choices and picked the only one that made sense: Senator Barack Obama. I took a moment to reflect on how amazing and special this moment was; A Black Man poised to become President of the United States. My Husband asked me if this election means as much to me as it does to my parents. The honest answer is, no.

Is it important? No doubt. Am I completely obsessed and invested? Absolutely. But I think it’s only fair to say that this election is a bit more emotional for people who actually lived through lunch counter sit-ins, fire hoses, marches, assassinations, riots, the birth of Affirmative Action, and all manner of race based indignities. Are things perfect now? No, but my parents and grandparents suffered much to make my road a little easier. It will be my job to do the same for my children.

As I proudly pulled the lever for Barack I also thought of my grandparents, in particular my grandfather, F. Levi Lord. He was Marcus Garvey’s secretary general. He traveled the country speaking on behalf of the Garvey Movement, racial pride and the upliftment of the race. It would have been an honor to escort him to the polls today, and probably somewhat newsworthy since, had he lived, he be about 120.

“Everything okay in there?” a poll worker asked.
“Just fine,” I said, snapping out of my reverie.

It was time for me and “Fitty” to go grab an espresso, put on my Obama T-shirt, sit by the TV and wait.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

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