Photo courtesy the designer.

In my 29 years here on this earth, I don’t think I’ve experienced a year with more back-to-back setbacks and heartbreaks than 2016. We lost Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali and Gene Wilder. The recent hurricane Matthew in Haiti left an already ravished country with an insurmountable death toll and destroyed my father’s hometown. By midyear, we had already lost hundreds of people to mass shootings in this country including the devastating attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. We watched more horrific cases of police brutality shake up our entire nation including the cases of Terrance Crutcher, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and Korryn Gaines.

Bernie lost, Apple made aux cords extinct, fashion won’t stop with the “see now, buy now” bullsh**, Negan killed Glenn on The Walking Dead, and they pulled “Myself” by Nav off of Spotify.

And now, after all of that, we still have to vote.

Our choices may seem bleak in this election. After all the presidency of the United States of America is the most powerful and important job in the world and I’m sure you’re wondering the same of these candidates, “Is this the best we can do?”

Let’s be clear, this thing has felt like one big joke from the primaries up until now; I mean just look at Ben Carson for visual reference. After the epic battle of the ill-fitting suit warriors, two gladiators remained. One candidate is a literal incarnation of Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. The other personifies the corporate control our citizens have been trying to free themselves from for decades. However, regardless of what you think of these two individuals, now isn’t the time for inaction.

There is just too much at stake here. I know all the excuses: “The electoral college decides the vote”; “I don’t live in a swing state;" "It doesn’t matter”; or my favorite, “Nothing is going to change.”

My friend, you are dead wrong.

We have a lot riding on this ballot: equal pay, racial equality, police brutality, healthcare, women’s rights, foreign diplomacy, mass incarceration for people of color, two wars, clean water, gun control, educational costs and an ever-spreading domestic heroin crisis.

Which candidate do you trust to lead us over these hurdles and to continue making progress? America is a flawed land but a great one indeed. We’ve made some amazing progress in the past 151 years since slavery ended, and considering that this is a democracy with many chefs in the kitchen with opposing views, that's impressive.

I’m urging you to not only to use your vote this year to choose a president who is decent, deserving and going to aid in continuing progress but to also vote this year and every year on a local level. A president’s power is limited. We need to vote down the ballot as well, from your councilman all the way up to your governors and congressman. These people can help, or as we’ve all seen under the Obama administration, halt progress.

Now I won’t tell you who to vote for, but I know whose values closely align to mine and the values of the people I love; that includes you. We don’t need to go back in time and make America great again, because really America was only great for certain people.

Despite the divisive and racist rhetoric we’ve been hearing all election cycle telling us what type of America we need to be, we absolutely will hold steadfast to our values. We are decent people. We won’t repeal the 13th or 19th amendments as the hashtags as of late by the alt-right are suggesting. We won’t deny basic human rights to people just because they weren’t born within our borders. We won’t raise taxes on the middle class. We won’t deregulate the banks. We will not tell people who they can and cannot marry. We won’t deny anyone a damn hospital visit. We won’t allow prisons to remain privatized. We will not deny anyone an education. We won’t allow sexual assault to go mainstream.

We need to think forward and keep making America greater. Not that old America, again.

Peace, I’m hopeful. Black Lives Matter.