‘It Freaking Matters Today’: Influential Black Women Stress the Importance of the Midterms

Kerry Washington (L) and Gabrielle Union attend the 46th NAACP Image Awards on February 6, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Fun fact: Despite voting early, I’ve been proudly holding onto my unworn “I Voted, Did You?” wristband for two weeks now, just waiting to wear it on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in solidarity with my fellow voters.

This midterm election is a deeply significant and historic one. We’re no longer speculating on “the lesser of two evils” or making false equivalencies. We know exactly what Trump, his administration and the GOP have to offer and are threatening to do. We know the type of people and behavior his rhetoric has galvanized. We should all know by now what’s at stake. And we should also know that the only way to curb further destruction of our already troubled democracy is to exercise what power we have at the polls.


So, if for whatever reason you are still apathetic about voting, understand that your apathy comes at not only your own peril but millions of others—though you should’ve figured that out in 2016, to be honest.

But don’t take my word for it; 50 famous, influential, socially-conscious women spoke with Marie Claire about their reasons for voting in this election. If you need some last-minute incentive, a few familiar names offer some pretty good arguments for participating in our democracy today.

Tracy Reese, Fashion Designer

“I’m voting because my voice MUST be heard!” Reese told Marie Claire. “It is my right and privilege. I will not sit idly by while others make decisions about my country’s future.”


Gina Torres, Actress

“I vote because the whole time my Cuban-born parents poured the entirety of themselves into my being and made their culture mine, they were relentless in reminding me that I am American. They became citizens because there was a place for them, for me, for all who dare to dream and work and sacrifice and contribute. I believe there is much work to be done and much worth fighting for. And so I vote because I’m American. It is my birthright. It is my superpower.”

Gina Torres of the television show ‘The Catch’ speaks onstage during the Disney-ABC portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at Langham Hotel on January 10, 2017 in Pasadena, California.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)

Amirah Vann, Actress

“Regrets suck. VOTE! ... When we don’t vote, we voluntarily silence both ourselves and our ancestors—simultaneously suffocating our future and their sacrificial shouts of ‘justice for all’ with the very same pillow upon which they finally laid their heads to rest, dreaming of freedom.”


Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter

“Most folks don’t realize the sheriff is an elected official. This position impacts millions of people across our county and I want to make sure everyone is informed on how they can change the course of the criminal justice system.”

Woman of the Year 2016 and Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors poses during Glamour Celebrates 2017 Women Of The Year Live Summit at Brooklyn Museum on November 13, 2017 in New York City.
Photo: Ilya S. Savenok (Getty Images for Glamour)

Brittany Packnett, Activist, Co-Host of ‘Pod Save The People’

“I vote because I will never volunteer for my own disenfranchisement. I refuse to be silent in my life or my community, so I refuse to be silent at the voting booth, too.”


Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter

“I’m casting a ballot on Tuesday because black futures matter. Black people deserve to have our issues addressed and we deserve to be powerful in every aspect of our lives.”


Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor of Barack Obama Presidential Center

“This is the most important election of my lifetime. It’s not enough to sit angry on the sidelines. If we want to make lasting change then the best way to do that is by voting.”

Valerie Jarrett attends Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 48th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 23, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

But wait, there’s more: actress and erstwhile activist Kerry Washington weighed in on the midterms for Vanity Fair after a performance of her new Broadway play, American Son. In fact, she answered a question we didn’t even know we wanted the answer to when the magazine asked what her former fictional alter ego, Scandal’s Olivia Pope, might be doing during the 2018 midterms.


“It would depend on who she was working for, but Olivia Pope would be hitting the ground with her ‘gladiators,’ and calling the shots to make sure people get to the polls to vote,” she said. “One of the things that I loved about playing Olivia Pope is that she had a deep, deep belief and love for the ideals of this country—the idea of ‘We the People’ and a democracy and that it should include all of us. This was really in her backbone, and that’s one of the things that she and I had in common.”

But perhaps Gabrielle Union, co-producer on American Son (with Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Jada Pinkett Smith, among others) said it best—and on behalf of The Glow Up I sincerely hope this is the sentiment that drives you to the polls today:

“Not only did our ancestors fight and die for this right—it freaking matters today. If you sit out, we all will be fucked!” she told Vanity Fair.

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.