Today marks 100 years since the 19th amendment was ratified. And while we celebrate this day as the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, let’s be very clear: it’s the 100th anniversary of white women’s right to vote.
Sure, the text of the 19th amendment does not specify race:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
But let’s be honest. Voter suppression is still going on now, let alone in 1920. We don’t even need to go back as far as the 2018 midterms and talk about the gubernatorial race in Georgia. Or the fact that individuals charged with a felony only retain their full right to vote in two out of 50 states.
Right now, the president has fully admitted that he and his administration are slowing down mail service in order to discourage voting by mail in the November election. Which is terrifying. And strongly reinforces the importance of voting.
Women worked for decades for the right to vote in America. So if we’re only exercising that right to vote when we feel really strongly about a candidate in a national election (see: Obama), it’s a slap in the face to all of the women (known and unknown) who fought for us.
So exercise your right to vote, and not just for the presidential election. Learn about your local elections and vote in those, too! If you don’t know who the candidates are, look them up. Read about their platform, see if your local newspaper has done interviews with them, and decide which candidates you feel would represent you best.
And remember: women fought for you. Now fight for other women. Learn about voter suppression. Learn about systemic oppression in our country. And then vote for people who will actively dismantle our broken systems.
P.S. The ratification of the 19th amendment is actually a super interesting story! I highly recommend this episode of Radiolab to learn more about it.