[Originally published to mark the release of our Women Run This Democracy collection in 2020, we asked some of our Heartbreaker team members to share their ideas around voting . Here's co-creator of Ladies Lead and O.G. Captain Ellen London's contribution.]
"You can see it coming from a few blocks away: a busy intersection. Approaching fast, you check the stoplight overhead. Green? Good to go. Yellow? Gauge your pace – can you make it safely? Better speed up to make it or slow down to wait. Red? Take a beat. Reevaluate.
You check all four lanes, then the sidewalks – because it’s not just speeding cars you have to worry about: other runners, dogs on too-long leashes, and bikes that fly through red lights without so much as a tap on the breaks.
You consult your watch. An endless loop of time versus distance versus effort versus time versus distance versus effort. For a moment you are moving forward and reevaluating everything, both.
As runners, we are no strangers to intersections. We thrive in their chaos, have learned to make it work for us: the relief of an unexpected break, the adrenaline from a long-anticipated walk (no, run!) signal.
And as we stand now at the intersection of so many things – a global pandemic, racial injustice, and a major economic downturn, to name just a few – us runners are uniquely positioned to harness our insatiable appetites for forward motion for change.
One hundred years ago this week, the United States saw the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. “That milestone is sometimes described as having ‘given’ women the right to vote. It wasn’t a gift; it was a hard-won victory on the part of suffragists who’d been agitating for it for more than seventy years, on the basis of their common humanity with men,” notes writer Margaret Talbot in this week’s issue of The New Yorker.
Seventy years – and yet, here we are plus another thirty and we still have so far to go. Due to gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a blatant refusal by many in power right now to wear a damn mask, so many are still not able to exercise their right to vote freely and safely. We still have so many miles to travel and tricky intersections to navigate on our way to true equity for all.
As we honor the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and look ahead to this critical election, let’s start by doing what we always do at a busy intersection:
- Check your blindspots. Where are there gaps in your own understanding of racism; social injustice; the socioeconomics of your community, city, and country; the ways in which so many of us have been left out of a system purportedly “for all”? Gather all possible information from trusted and diverse perspectives to fill in those gaps before charging ahead.
- Consider all possibilities. Scan the traffic pattern; the sidewalks; the blue sky overhead. Consider a path forward that might be different from the one you originally planned. Allow yourself to pivot given new information.
- Rally the troops. Gather around your community. Encourage participation, pulling forward together; no teammate left behind. Provide support for the long-haul, no matter who is or is not watching. Lend your voice and platform to amplify voices from people and communities outside of your own.
- Prepare to move forward safely and efficiently. Make sure you’re registered to vote and help others to do so. Plan ahead to apply for mail-in voting or make a safe plan to get to your polling place in person. Research the candidates and their platforms ahead of time so that you can vote up and down the ballot with confidence.
Then take a deep breath and charge forward, summoning all of the strength, courage, and spirit at your disposal. Lead us through this busy intersection – and onto the next one. And the one after that, for the next seventy years plus thirty and then some. We need you now more than ever."