The Felonious PhD.

White Collar Female PhD. Felon, Prison Camp, Re-Entry, Criminal Justice Reform. Women, Lesbian

Am I a Republican or Democrat?…

on February 8, 2014

I was waiting to speak to someone in the education department about my creative writing class census when I observed a flyer entitled, “How To Get Your Voting Rights Back.”  Although I have thought about the ramifications that being labeled a felon would have on my present and future, I have not consciously given my new status as a second class citizen,  a second thought in reference to my voting rights.  I immediately became angry and thought, “I’ll be damned if I have to fight for my right to vote, too!”  I could now be justified in my ambivalence and apathy toward politics and politicians.  I will no longer participate in discussions about the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.  I will be free from attempting to decipher innumerable lies that politicians tell in order to get elected.  I will purchase a t-shirt that says, “I am a felon,” so NO, I am not registered and I cannot vote!

The pathology that occurs when one who is a fighter is told that they are told “NO, you can’t!” can lead to an internal battle, in retrospect, is very humorous.  In that split second, my other thought was, “No one is going to tell me I’m not going to be able to exercise a fundamental right that my ancestors fought diligently for!  I am no longer a third of a person and these are not slavery days!”  Honestly, that entire conversation took place in my head and played out in a matter of 5 minutes or less.

Once the education coordinator arrived, I proceeded to complete my paperwork for the class and as I turned to walk out of the small office, I stubbornly snatched up the brochure and walked out the door.

As I read the brochure which detailed the qualification and procedures for reinstating voting rights, I was struck by two things.  First, once again, here is the criminal justice system trying to find a way to correct itself.  That gives me hope because even as our country continues to over-criminalize its citizens, the term felon will be added to the list of once shameful terminology which has recently become commonplace and includes words like bankruptcy, foreclosure, and unemployed.

Next,  I thought about how the few frustrating and  inconvenient steps that are necessary to reinstate my voting rights do not compare to what those before me had to do to pave the way for me to have ever had a right to vote.  Needless to say, I will be fighting to reinstate my right to vote.  I can not promise that I will converse rationally about political issues, and I know I will never declare myself to be a Republican or Democrat, but I will find a way to voice my opinion.

I am thankful for my ability to see past the madness of this debilitating system and that I forgive very easily…..but I don’t forget.


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