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How to perform a really cool trick

Falling down the rabbit hole of DukeGroups, I land on an image of a spread of cards.

The title of this event reads: “VIRTUAL—Sleight of Hand in the Wellness Center.” Being a first-year with absolutely nothing to lose, I register for this club Zoom, hoping to learn some new sleight of hand tricks. A friend of mine back home had always been really into magic, especially with cards, and the main source of the deep bitterness in my life is the frustration I feel every time I can’t understand how a magic trick is performed. “How?! Who what where when why?!” I would exclaim.

“Real magic,” my friend would reply, “and a magician can never reveal his tricks.”

Well, screw you and your fake magic. Here at Duke, I’m learning what’s real. I have attended every Tuesday Sleight of Hand Zoom session since the beginning of the semester. This is my journey of revenge.

After entering the cult—I mean, club—through an extremely secretive ritualistic process of clicking on a Zoom link, I swore to one day overthrow my friend and his passion for withholding magical information.

In the first meeting, I offered myself up as a sacrifice—I mean, volunteer—for the ring leader to perform his magic upon. After I chose a random card from the deck and inserted it back in, he was able to read my mind and recite to me which card I had originally chosen. By the end of the cult session, I had been indoctrinated with the same knowledge. The second week, we practiced channeling other people’s energy into the cards. The third week, the volunteer’s chosen card would mysteriously appear as the missing card in the overturned suit by the end of the trick. The deep bitterness in my life was beginning to fade.

Over the course of my membership in this body of sorcery, one of the main strategies I learned that magicians use while performing is engagement with the audience. Interaction and connection with the volunteer is what truly allows the magic to occur.

I tested a few of my newly learned card tricks on my friend Katherine, who, in return, invited me to another cult—I mean, club—meeting with Duke Votes. There, I learned how to conduct another truly magical process. While Sleight of Hand enabled me to embark on a journey of revenge, Duke Votes placed me on a path of justice and growth.

Now, unlike my gatekeeping magician friend back home, I am a kind and generous human, and have escaped from the cult in order to bring you this essential information. (Disclaimer: I only metaphorically escaped because information is often hidden from outsiders, and I just had to let y’all know).

Without further ado, I will let you in on this magical process. You, as the reader, can be the volunteer. By the end of this trick, one more person here will be ready to make a change in this country with their voice. “How?!” You may want to exclaim. Well here are the answers that I never got:

WHO: You! (If you’re a citizen without a felony over the age of 18 lol)

WHAT: Will learn how to register to vote, then register, then vote

WHERE: Learn at http://duke.turbovote.org/, register/vote depending on your home state, or change your voting registration to North Carolina

WHEN: Literally once you finish reading this, please! You will most likely need to mail things, and therefore need to allow adequate time for the magic to take place (for NC, voter registration deadline is October 9th)

WHY: Because each individual vote will eventually make the larger difference. 

With all the ways this country suppresses the voices of certain populations, the voting process can truly seem like a magic trick, with the knowledge of how it’s performed reserved for only members of a certain cult. With Trump’s ongoing attacks on USPS, strategic placements of polling places far from bus lines, the confusing restrictions of voting rights for citizens with past convictions, and America’s historical disenfranchisement of minority voters, it should be obvious that the spread of information is crucial. Reposting something to your IG story may not be enough, and the message may not be sent to the right people. There’s no use preaching to the choir. I trust that my followers over 18—most of whom are liberal college students—are already responsibly registered. The politically detached people in my life who don’t use social media, however, are not. Hopefully this article (hi Mom are you reading this) can encourage them to give voting another thought, or inspire them to engage with our political climate and presidential campaign.

Now, it’s your turn to practice. Find yourself some volunteers, too. Walk through the process, perhaps with a friend or two. Take the time to learn this trick of voting and guiding—it’ll yield legitimate power in the end. Rather than public shaming such as during the 2006 Michigan primary, when citizens’ voting history was reported to their neighbors, or peer pressure through the addition of “I voted” buttons on Facebook, you, an individual, can directly spread the “who what where when and why.” A magician may never reveal their secrets, but to be honest, with this trick up your sleeve, you are just as much of a magician as I am.

Columnist’s Note: I would like to thank the leaders of both Sleight of Hand Club and Duke Votes for teaching me about these two genres of magic. Check out Duke Votes on IG @duke.votes and Sleight of Hand on DukeGroups!

Jocelyn Chin is a Trinity first-year. Her column runs on alternate Wednesdays. 

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