One of the many focuses of white supremacy; beside perpetuating the idea of superiority over people of color and other ethnic backgrounds, is to undermine and stifle any sign of growth and positive gain of any kind; particularly for African-Americans. Historically speaking and even in the present day, if there appeared to be an emergence of strength to overcome the obstacles and road blocks that have been placed in our path, there was always a transparent undercurrent of targeted efforts to “keep us in our place”.
Our 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “ A man without a vote is a man without protection”, signaling the significance of practicing one of our most important rights as a citizen. But it would not be until after the Civil war, in 1870 when the 15th amendment was ratified to prohibit states from denying the right to vote based on, “race, color or previous condition of servitude”. Keep in mind that this ratification of the 15 amendment, only gave Black men the right to vote and it would be some time later before women, specifically Black women would be granted this basic human right.
While the 19th amendment finally granted white women the right to vote, this was not extended to women of color. Racism and discriminatory practices, such as voter suppression (which is still being practiced to this very day), would prohibit access to the ballet boxes for African-American women and it would not be until the passing of the Voting Rights Act Of 1965, that women of color were finally permitted to participate in their civil roles as a citizen of this country, The United States Of America.
As Black Americans, we have been beaten and battered by systemic racism and oppression, since we were forcefully brought to these shores in 1619. For most of the time that we have been here, first as enslaved people taken away from our native home, Africa, to freed men and women who despite this so-called freedom, would forever be shackled to the chains of racism that would continue to impact, every single aspect of our lives, there was never any consideration that we as the African Diaspora would be treated, fairly, or considered equal to our white counterparts. For every advantage that was afforded to non-people of color, we as people of color have been at a perpetual disadvantage and have experienced a broken spirit of disenchantment with this “land of opportunity.” Our experience and our journey to this country, was not filled with hope, excitement, and the dream that one day we would have better or that if we worked hard enough, that ultimately, we would be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
In our lifetime, we witnessed something that our ancestors would have never thought possible, the first African American President of the United States of America. I have never witnessed such jubilation in this unbelievable undertaking and not just in this country but in other parts of the world, they celebrated this impossible dream. I often hear my fellow peers along with those of both the older and younger generations, that sadly, show no appreciation or recognition for this historical fact. Many feel that President Obama did absolutely nothing for Black people, but I would in fact argue that he was not the one who abandoned us but that it was WE who abandoned him. It was not only for us to vote him into office but we also needed to do all that we could to sustain and support him while he was there…we left him hanging and then, to add insult to injury, we blamed him for not being able to erase all that has happened to us for centuries, in just 8 short years, having no support from us or from the other branches of government, who also take an oath swearing to put the needs of the people in this country first. This is not a dictatorship, it is supposed to be a Democracy, for the people by the people. No ONE person can turn things around without support…including 45 and that is what makes him different from Obama, 45 has SUPPORT!
Gone are the days of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King J.R., meaning that there is no one person that we should expect to rise up and lead us to victory. As a people, we need to learn to adapt to our current situation which requires that WE take collective responsibility for our own fate. No species of animal that we see walking around today, looked the same as we see them, 1000 years ago and do you know why that is? It is because they adapted, and they evolved so that they could continue to survive. As things on this planet changed, so did things change about them so that they could continue to eat.
We have to STOP convincing each other that our VOTE does not matter because it DOES! They know that it does and not only do they do everything that they can to get it but they also will do anything to keep us from exercising our RIGHT to do it!
WE have to stop sitting on our collective power, giving it away because of the things that we are dissatisfied with! NO ONE is saying that WE should not be upset about the things that have NOT been done to take care of the needs and injustices that we have faced.
ALL I am saying is that WE have the power to really do something about it by GETTING involved COMPLETELY! We have been guilty of not valuing ourselves enough to see to it that our COLLECTIVE VOICES are heard on EVERY level and we think that by doing NOTHING that it will change OUR circumstances. How much LONGER are WE going to give our POWER away to people who do not mean US any GOOD? Think of how a vote could keep people like State Attorney Daniel Cameron (R) out of office in Kentucky, where NO homicide charges were ever presented to the Grand Jury in the Breonna Taylor case and others like him throughout this country who continue to stand by and deny justice for all those who have been brutalized by the police. Although there are instances where State Attorneys can be appointed by the Governor of the state, for the most part, they are elected by the people.
We MUST make our voices heard by understanding that the government works for US and not the other way around. Democracy is FOR the people BY the people and we can make this government whatever WE need it to be so that we can see the change that we so richly deserve. But we CANNOT see that change come to fruition if all we are going to do is complain and WAIT for someone else to rescue us…We possess the power to do that for ourselves…we are a FORCE to be reckoned with, educate yourself on those who align with the issues and concerns that you have for your family and your community.
Our VOICE and our VOTE does indeed matter it’s time to stop playing checkers, be critical, analytical and strategic in your thinking and in your movements…learn how to play CHESS so that you can see the ENTIRE picture and how each move affects us as a people. Stand up, stop complaining and USE the most powerful thing that we possess, your VOICE! Every election counts not just the general election. We MUST vote in EVERY election if we are to make any kind of difference. Local, State and Federal officials do not obtain ANY office without a vote. Would you be willing to sit in the passenger seat of a car with a person that you know for certain is intoxicated, knowing that they have YOUR life in THEIR hands? So then, why would you decide to let us others dictate what will happen in your communities, your cities/towns, states, and country by not making your voice heard? I do not care anything about your political affiliation. But I do care about us having a more proficient understanding in how our vote can change the game once we become fully committed in changing our OWN circumstances and that cannot be done if you are not willing to participate. We say loudly and we say proudly that Black Votes Matter…it is time that we show them, just how much!