An Open Letter from Nia Coffey

My message:

I’m sad, heartbroken, hurt, feeling helpless, and hopeless. But I know in my heart, I can’t give up, we can’t give up because those who have lost their lives don’t get the opportunity to move forward and help create a positive change our country desperately needs. If we want to see the change we need, we must not only talk about solutions, but hold ourselves and others accountable to act on them to make them a reality. We know what the problems are, so let’s focus on the solutions. We all are aware of the protests and what sparked this movement and we know what we are asking for. It’s beyond equality and equity, it’s a cry out for JUSTICE. I don’t have a quick fix solution, but one simple long term solution we can all focus on is the responsibility of voting. WE NEED TO VOTE, so we can have intelligent leadership in decision making positions to effect social change, social justice, and eradicate systemic racism. President Barack Obama explained the importance of the various levels of voting in How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change. Obama shared some powerful facts regarding voting that I feel many people have overlooked. According to President Obama:

“Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.
It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.”

It’s beyond showing up every four years for the presidential election. State and local elections are more important than what people realize. State and local elections have so much authority and power to either negatively or positively impact our community and lives. Our Black ancestors died for our right to vote and it’s insulting for people not to exercise that right. Beyond it being our right, it’s our responsibly not only for us, but for your ancestors and generations to come.

I encourage you if you haven’t already, register to vote. Do your research and learn about the candidates involved. If you don’t like your options, consider running for office! Invite and encourage your family and friends to do the same. If ever you feel like the process is complicated or hard, reflect on what our ancestors have gone through and what we are going through now. If we want change we have to do what’s necessary.