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What I’m Voting For: Brittni Chicuata

Written by Brittni Chicuata

Photography by Photographed by Myisa Plancq-Graham

With the most consequential election in modern history just weeks away, we are asking mothers to tell us what they are voting for this fall. First up is Oakland-based mother of one (and one on the way!) Brittni Chicuata, whose impressive 9-5 is as the Chief Of Staff at The San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Below, Brittni breaks down what’s most vital for her on this year’s ballot.

“These days, it’s hard to find hope in our politics. The divisive messages from our should-be leaders don’t inspire feelings that we are working toward a collective goal of peace, sovereignty, or stability in the near future. And yet, in this moment where we are living beneath a weighted fog of weariness and despair, I am called to action to be ‘someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability, and to help repair tears in her society,’ as RBG encouraged. I am called to use the power and reach that I do have to engage my network and invite them to act in faith and reparation with me. That feels like all that we can hold onto and work towards these days: our faith in reparation for the cumulative violent, racist, traumatic transgressions we’ve collectively experienced in the past 4 years and beyond.

In recent years and months, I’ve really tried to hone in on what I care about, what excites me to work towards. It took me over a decade to articulate that fighting for women’s economic sovereignty (so that Black women do not die in childbirth, so that women have free and autonomous choices in our birth decisions, so that women have freedom and safety in our relationships) is the thing that really keeps me going. This year, we have an opportunity to pass the most consequential state ballot measure for women’s equal rights and racial justice in 2020: Prop. 16. Voting yes on Prop. 16 will overturn the ban on affirmative action in California. Most media has focused pretty singularly on the potential wins for racial justice of Prop. 16—these wins would be concrete, are very critical, and very much overdue. Also of great importance: More than any other measure on the ballot, Prop 16 will most directly benefit women by helping end gender-based discrimination in business opportunities and public education access in California. Simply put, voting YES on Prop. 16 is about taking active effort to improve opportunities in education, employment, and business for people from underrepresented backgrounds, particularly Black people, Latinx people, and women. California is one of 8 states with a current ban on affirmative action. 8. As a person who lives and works at the intersection of racial and gender justice, this ballot measure is deeply emotive for me.

From grocery clerks to healthcare workers to mothering our children, women are on the frontlines right now as much as we have ever been. All of our work is essential. Yet, despite being half of the population and labor market, we continue to occupy the majority of low-wage jobs in California. In fact, COVID, and the many caretaking responsibilities that have come with it, has pushed women further into poverty. Prop. 16 is one tool to fight gender discrimination and the ways in which it upholds the racial wealth gap. Fewer education and wage-earning opportunities for women means poorer health outcomes, less safety and autonomy in our relationships, and has also been linked to poor educational outcomes for children. This is about creating better outcomes and opportunities across the lifecourse; taking care of ourselves first, so that we can show up fully and healthily in the many spaces where we take care of others.

We’re less than one month away from the most consequential election of our lifetimes. So many of us feel at a loss for words, energy, and discernment of reality. I feel—and I know that I am not alone in this—that the things taking place are exactly what you would expect from the tyrannical leadership we have, precisely because I have lived in the U.S. as a person whose power and contributions are invisible to political leaders until election season comes. I’m just trying to channel my feelings into action and inspire a small circle of friends, old and new, to join me along the way.”

Do you have a plan to vote this year? Head over to WhenWeAllVote.org to get started! Then tell a friend—or 5!—to do the same. 

To hear more from Brittni, follow her on Instagram, and read her previous essay for MOTHER about what having mastitis taught her about motherhood.

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