US elections: ‘My vote means something’

Student Ikim Powell explains why he is voting for Bernie Sanders – and for those without a political voice.

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Ikim Powell takes a break between classes on a spring day at the College of Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City [Sarah Stacke/Al Jazeera]

“There’s power in numbers and we have to be cognisant of that,” says 21-year-old Ikim Powell about his plans to vote in the US election.

Powell, a junior at the College of Staten Island, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English and African Diaspora Studies. He believes that the most important issues at stake in the 2016 election are college education, universal healthcare, the environment and space programmes.

“What we do today affects our tomorrow,” he says, and feels people will understand that they need to treat our planet more respectfully if they are able to conceptualise its vulnerability through the large-scale perspective that exploring outer space can provide.

Another deeply important issue to Powell is mass incarceration and its relationship to laws that disenfranchise people currently or previously convicted of a crime.

Due to the significant growth in the number of people in prison over the past four decades, these laws have dramatically impacted the political voice of many Americans, particularly African Americans.

“My vote means something,” says Powell, “and I’m going to vote … for those who can’t speak.”

He discusses the candidates and election issues with his peers, his mother, her husband, and his father. The family is rooting for Bernie Sanders, but are doubtful that he will become the presidential nominee.

“Don’t just do something because you see others doing it,” Powell says of the process of deciding who to vote for. “Make a conscious decision and understand that who you vote for determines the trajectory of our nation.”

Source: Al Jazeera