Why vote? A conversation with Down Home Fellow Isani Howell


Why are you a Down Home Fellow? What brought you into our work?

I saw the Facebook ad, Femi walking in her overalls, and I loved the feel of it, so DYI, and a cool organization. I used to be complacent because I didn’t know how to make a difference in my community. I felt outnumbered. It seemed like Down Home was doing what I wanted to do, and it’s a chance to make a difference and interact with people in my community who feel the same way. I knew they were there, but didn’t know how to find them. 

I’m learning so much. I really like being a part of such a diverse fellowship. I feel like every time we get together, I learn something new and get to experience what life is like for people outside my demographic. It’s not something I get to do on a daily basis otherwise. 

Down Home NC gives me the opportunity to create and experience diversity in my immediate community. It’s very empowering. Down Home isn’t doing for me what I can’t do for myself, but empowering me to connect and act in ways I didn’t know how, but deeply wanted to do. 

Pictured: Our 2022 Down Home Fellows and our Training Manager, Femi!

People have different reasons for voting. Why do you go to the polls and vote?

I think voting’s imperative. I abstained from voting in my younger life, because I felt like we didn’t have a real choice. Voting becomes rigged when folks don’t participate in our democracy. Voters didn’t put that in motion, but things can be pulled over on us due to our own inactivity. I don’t see how to use our current party system for real change, but I do think it’s possible that we can protect our rights. If we don’t protect our rights through voting, we will lose them. There are so many folks who have been working so hard for so long to take away our rights — especially as a woman now — but by no means are women the only ones. I have self-interest for sure, and also want to act on behalf of the billions of people in this country and who want to come to this country who can’t. I am a citizen. Even though I may feel my voice has been stifled at times, it is important to use it — use it or lose it, and I choose to use it because I don’t want to lose it.