In more recent years I have seen several of my millennial peers questioning whether their vote matters. The so-called “woke” individuals have done a wonderful job of brainwashing my fellow African-American counterparts that their voices do not matter because we have yet to see the progressive change we have been looking for. With the increasing presence of police brutality, unfair housing rates, disproportionate incarceration rates, and criminalization of our people through racially biased rhetoric seen on the daily news, it can be hard to foresee positive change in the hands of those who have not done much to offer us improvement in the first place.
When an African-American complains, we are told that slavery ended hundreds of years ago and we should just move on and get over it. The reality is slavery was just re-written in a language that politically sounds appealing but when read deeply, symbolizes a more controlled loss of freedom than being hauled naked in chains between plantations as property. Those who are “woke” want you to believe that we do not actually have a voice and that we cannot project change amongst ourselves and our community. The question you have to ask yourself is, if your vote truly did not matter then why has there been such an attempt to suppress that vote throughout history? The 13th amendment of the constitution states that “slavery shall not exist except as punishment for a crime in which one is convicted.” African-Americans are incarcerated 5.1 times more than their non-black counterparts. Now let’s take that a step further. Felony disenfranchisement is defined as the revocation of ones right to vote if they are a convicted felon. 45% of African-Americans are placed into the system for small petty crimes and as a result their right to vote is taken away. Some states have established local legislature that allows for a felons rights to be restored once their full sentence is completed. This type of legislature comes about via the voting process. Voting for the president is one thing but voting and the state and local level determines the fate of your state as well as your country.
Currently in North Dakota a voter I.D. law was implemented that negatively affects the ability for Native American voters who live on reservations with no physical address to go vote. Several polling locations in African-American communities have been closed or placed in hard to reach areas. The use of voter intimidation and fear mongering to scare individuals away from the polls sounds similar to the Jim Crow era and yet it exists in the year 2018. African-Americans were once not allowed to learn how to read so literacy tests were placed at polls as a method of suppression. All of these tactics seem pretty pointless for a community of votes that do not count for anything. During the 2016 Trump election statistics showed that there was a low turn-out of African-American voters in key states that Trump should have lost but ultimately won. Based on population in these states, had there been an increase in African-American vote, Trump may not be our current president.
We have to be the change we want to see in this world. A voice not used is a voice unheard. We will never see the progress we wish to see as long as we allow those in power to go unquestioned. As a double minority, both a woman and African-American my vote is highly important because women were once seen just as inferior as minorities. Women make up a low percentage of our government and as a result we are still dealing with unfair wages, little or no maternity leave, and inadequate access to healthcare. The judges and lawyers that protect the immoral law enforcement officers and immoral politicians in this country will never be removed from position if we do not speak up. Men and women alike shed blood for our ability to go to the polls. Families lost mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters to lynching and beating for the ability to go to the polls. My MawMaw once had to vote in a basement just as not to be seen trying to make her voice heard. When people know the power you possess they use fear to intimidate you and politics to control you. If the black vote didn’t speak volumes no one would be out to suppress it. For this reason, I voted this morning and I hope you did to. Let not those who came before you have died in vain because your ignorance made you believe your vote never counted.