I’m Choosing to Vote for My People

June 22, 2016 /

By Alyssa Castro

Photo via Flikr


Ed. Note: Young people in California just aren’t voting. At least that’s according to data from this month’s primary, where voters under 35 accounted for just 10 percent of all votes cast. That compares to the 68 percent of all votes cast by people over 55. But for Merced resident Alyssa Castro, voting means a lot more than just checking a box.


Merced, Calif.– Like many of you, I’ve felt the ups and downs of this roller coaster election season.

The surprising rise of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stood in stark contrast to the racist fear mongering of the Donald Trump campaign. All of this came amid the backdrop of my deep distrust of Hillary Clinton.

In the lead up to the primary I became increasingly overwhelmed and started to feel detached from the whole thing. In fact, I didn’t have an interest in voting until the week of the election came. After some personal reflection and discussion amongst peers and family members, I decided it was time to fight.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win,” proclaimed the former Black Panther and civil rights activist Assata Shakur. “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Those words held extreme significance for me on Election Day. They restored my ideals and filled my mind as I approached my polling place: “It is our duty to fight.”

It is MY DUTY to VOTE for the marginalized and voiceless: my under age nieces, nephews, son and cousins, my undocumented friends, and those in my life who have been swallowed by an unforgiving prison system. It is my duty to take part in a fight against bigotry and systems that profit from the criminalization and exploitation of poor people.

No matter the outcome of this election the efforts and words of those who paved the way for us to fight against injustices will always ring true and I will continue to look to their wisdom for inspiration throughout the movement.


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