Estimated reading time: 14 minute(s)
It has been a gloomy weather day in Houston. Some might say this is a “sign” of what is to come when the final votes have been tallied during the mid-term elections.
We’ve watched President Barack Obama the past month go from being the Commander-in-Chief to the “Campaigner-in-Chief”, according to political pundits. This also includes the First Lady Michelle Obama, whose mesmerizing ability to communicate to the ordinary American was called upon.
Will it be enough? Will the Republicans reclaim the political throne? Will the Democrats hold on despite, according to some, sitting on their hands the last two years? Do you even care? What about Black people in America?
The other day I was in a local Black-owned barbershop and I walked right into a political debate over the purpose of Blacks casting their vote. Great Houston spoken word artist Equality once referred to the barbershop as the Black man’s Country Club where millions of sermons are being preached simultaneously every Saturday morning.
This particular morning, politics was on the table.
It was getting heated as one barber said “We as Black people need to vote because our people gave their lives for us to have the right to vote. Show your gratitude. Even if you don’t like anyone on the ballot, voting straight Democrat is better than nothing.”
Uproar took over the shop as a younger Black male, awaiting his turn for a haircut, shouted “Man, that’s a lie. Black people didn’t GIVE their lives for us to have the right to vote. White folks TOOK our lives and then gave us whatever rights they wanted us to have.”
A chorus of “Dang”, “Wow”, and “That’s right” came across the shop.
The young man continued, “And I don’t think our ancestors wants us to vote just to be voting especially when these political fools only care about Blacks when it is time to win an election. We’re being exploited and used as pawns. I’m not voting!”
The barber responded by saying, “Son, you have a lot to learn. We’ve been through a lot as a people and your vote is important. We came together in 2008 to get the first ever Black President of the United States. We can’t leave him hanging now.”
(Photo courtesy of White House Flickr)
The young man responded, “Why not? Obama has left Black people hanging but wants us to bail out these weak Democrats with our vote. Yet we can’t even get him to address any Black issues. I’m not saying he hasn’t done something good so far but come on. The Black vote is not respected.”
The shop got quiet. …Another barber turned up ESPN Sports Center on the television and that was the end of the conversation.
I think this young person brought up some interesting points that made me think about the article titled “Black voters to the rescue, again?”
In this article it states:
“Polls indicate many minority voters are discouraged and won’t turn out Nov. 2 as they did for Mr. Obama two years ago, yet a solid showing among Blacks could still swing several House, Senate and gubernatorial races, according to some analysts.”
In the last few weeks Pres. Obama made appearances on a lot of urban radio shows to encourage Black voters to get out today but will it be enough is the big question. The momentum of the midterms is nowhere near the energy of 2008. That year, I personally knew gang members who voted for the first time because the spirit was different. Yet, that same gang member told me the other day “If Obama is not on the ballot, I’m not voting again.”
Is he the only one feeling like that? Is he wrong for those thoughts?
As for the young man at the barbershop, an article in The Final Call newspaper titled “Black youth, mid-term elections and Obama’s age of hope” sheds more light on that demographic.
The article states:
“While Black youth nationwide prepare to vote in the mid-term elections some say they have not been fooled into believing the outcomes will dramatically change their lives.
Black youth, responding to a national survey of 15-25 year olds, revealed that they were realistic about the meaning of the new age of hope President Obama promised….
“I voted for Obama because I felt his message and wanted to be a part of a change in America. This year it’s different. All the confusion with the Tea Party, all the negativity against the president and the Republicans who want to take back their country, all my hope is gone,” said Brian Henderson, a 22-year-old D.C. resident.
“But I’m still going to vote and encourage others to do so also. It’s hard to get excited when you don’t feel like the options are any better than the devil and Satan in some places.”
I am in no way discouraging anyone from voting. I’m just giving something to think about.
I would like to know: Why Do You Vote?
P.S.–Yes, I voted. (smile) I voted for candidates that I personally know have my people’s best interest at heart. But also I am under no illusion that my civic duty stops at the voting booth. I and we have to work to be the change we want to see on a daily basis not just during election season.