Throughout the history of this nation, there have been times when the “better angels” in Americans outnumbered and overruled forces of division, hatred and anarchy. Such an opportunity to override negativity presents itself in this crucial off-year election, and no one is certain which way the wind is blowing with only days left to cast ballots.
First, Black Americans who believe that voting is futile are contributing to their own demise. If the African American vote had been just a few percentages higher in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2016, we would never have had to endure the most ridiculous presidency in history and the aftermath of three political Supreme Court appointments.
Systemic racism is real. But there are some things Blacks need to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable for.
The proverbial “man” did not force anyone to stay away from the polls on election day, to be duped into voting for unwinnable candidates or to be swayed into the camp of the enemy with false and empty promises.
Black people must assume greater responsibility for mobilizing the vote at every level. This should be the relentless theme of every Historically Black College and University. There should be deafening cries for voter activism from the NAACP, Urban League, 100 Black Men of America, Divine Nine (fraternities and sororities), the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and every organization of Black professionals.
We are not so monolithic that we should ever, as a race, be required to agree on everything and always support the same candidates. But to fail to even participate in the election process is an unforgivable transgression against all of those who fought off police dogs and nightsticks, who were washed off their feet by firemen’s hoses, who were bombed in churches and schools, who endured burning crosses on their lawns and brutal lynching to fight for our right to vote.
To ignore such sacrifice reflects an ungodly level of arrogance, ignorance and ingratitude. And speaking of God, there should not be a Black church in America that is not ACTIVELY participating in voter registration, education and motivation, as well as facilitation to get members of their congregation and surrounding communities to the polling places.
Many new obstacles have been thrown into the path. People of God must be proactive in assuring that the most disenfranchised people in the nation are able to overcome suppression of their voice.
White brothers and sisters need to come together for the common good. Health care has no color. Opportunities in public schools and higher education are colorless concerns. Respect for women crosses color and ideological lines.
Every reasonable thinking American wants a sensible approach to reducing crime, which must include taking some high-powered weapons out of the hands of the mentally unstable.
No man or woman who believes there is a God can endorse policies that systematically thwart the constitutional pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
People of all races agree much more than they disagree on fundamental tenets of the quality of life. And in this “land of the free,” nothing could be more hypocritical than denying the outcome of elections while claiming to embrace democracy. That is an oxymoron unable to exist in reality.
We all know that gerrymandering and voter suppression has been designed to negate Black and brown voting rights out of the mythical fear of the “browning of America,” that there is a risk of whites losing their status as the majority population in the U.S. The Atlantic recently reported that the narrative that nonwhite people will soon outnumber whites is divisive but is also false.
The article entitled “The Myth of a Majority-Minority America” writes: “The majority-minority narrative depicts a society divided into two, with one side rising while the other subsides. It has bolstered white anxiety and resentment of minorities. The replacement theory is false.”
There are increasing numbers of interracial marriages and relationships that produce children of mixed heritage. So statistics are skewed when they identify themselves as non-white.
Scare tactics have become the most useful tool of those trying to incite voters to turn out in response to a non-existent threat. For example, so-called critical race theory is a non-issue because the story of Black Americans has never been taught in schools throughout this country. How can there be such an urgency to remove a curriculum that in fact never existed, not even in progressive urban schools.
The bottom line, if Latinas want to defend DACA and reasonable immigration laws, if women want to reclaim their rights, if the working poor of all races want their dollar to stretch farther at the grocery store, their prescription medicine to cost less, their retirement funds protected, the infrastructure of their community rebuilt, a safer environment, better policing and treatment in the judicial system and a better nation for their children, they had better yield to the better angels within them and come together.
Black Americans and citizens of all ethnicities and race are voting for sustaining democracy in November. They had better turn out to the polls and vote like their life depends on it, because it literally does.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].