What Democracy Means to Me?

De·moc·ra·cy /dəˈmäkrəsē/

noun

  1. a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Democracy is a system of government by and for the whole population of a state. The definition goes on to clarify that the government may limit eligibility to members of the country. As a citizen of the United States who is eligible to vote, I imagine a democracy where ALL citizens have the opportunity to participate in their government. There are millions of convicted felons who have served their time and still do not have the right to vote. Others have been purged from the voter registration logs, and there are older people and working-class people who cannot travel the long distances to the voting polls. In a real democracy, all citizens would be eligible and allowed to participate in the political system that impacts the quality of their lives.

In a real democracy, young children would be allowed to know and learn the intricacies of the political system. For democracy and liberation to be synonymous, justice must be recreated to protect not only the majority but the minority. The rights afforded to us as American citizens should be given to each and every one of us without limits. The United States markets itself as “the home of the free because of the brave,”. To fight the persistence of systemic oppression in our nation, we must demand access to our freedoms. And make sure all citizens, permanent residents, and asylum seekers are treated with dignity and respect. 

My education has allowed me to be a Futures Initiative Fellow, the chance to ponder on the place of democracy in our society, and how to achieve liberation. My education has put me in a unique position to study, learn, and fight for political, financial, and psychological freedom. I am the product of access to education and investment by my family. I am a natural-born leader, outspoken, and empathetic, and without the opportunities that I’ve been afforded, I might be unable to discuss the future of democracy.

I am proud to live in a country where my voice can be heard. James Baldwin once famously, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” I am grateful to live in a place that has given a first-generation black girl born from a parent with substance abuse issues, a path to success. But this gratitude has not blinded me from the social injustices that have and continue to occur. People of color and people from underserved and under-resourced communities are marginalized from the privilege that I have been afforded. Knowing this has prepared me to live my life with Baldwin’s words in mind until our democracy lives up to the standard it promotes. 

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1 Comment

  1. You make a great argument with “justice must be recreated to protect not only the majority but the minority” and highlight voter suppression of different marginalized groups. Also, your positionality is what Patricia Hill Collins, a womanist scholar, calls an “outsider within” which provides an oppressed and privilege view. Critiquing the system that shapes your world and thoughts is essential as a citizen.

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