Written by Kazemde Ajamu,
I stood in a long line yesterday at the voting polls. Once I received my ballot and walked over to the both, I stood there for what seemed like a lifetime trying to decide which democratic candidate I was going to cast my vote for. My spirit was telling me to walk away and not vote at all because neither Bernie nor Hillary spoke to my issues. I played out in my head which candidate is really speaking to Black issues. It seems to me that both are speaking AT Black issues and no TO our issues. I see post, memes, media coverage of how one candidate or the other dealt with questions coming from activist from the consortium of Black Lives Matter Movement. Questions that both Bernie and Hillary should and need to answer before earning our vote. Instead we are debating which one handled it better, one allowed them to speak and the other kicked them out. Neither of them answered the questions posed to them and that's what caught my attention.
Here are some of my questions:
How does free college tuition help Black America when we are still dealing with the white wash of American and World History? We are still dealing with a eroding free and public school system in our inner cities.
How is passing a Infrastructure Bill to fix our streets and bridges going to help Black America when most capable Black contractors can't get insurance policies and seed capital to compete for these contracts?
Big Banks, Investment Firms didn't invest heavily into start up Black owned businesses and communities prior to the recent crash on Wall Street, what makes us believe that breaking them up is going to change how they do business with us?
The manufacturing based moved out of the inner cities to greener (white) pastures long before NAFTA and moving oversees to run from taxation, what makes us believe if they come back anything would be different? When they moved out of the cities into the suburbs, they left a gapping tax deficiency that would have otherwise fueled inner city services.
Is income inequality about gender pay inequities or closing the pay income gaps between Black/ Brown America and White America? (No one has yet to define) Is raising minimum wage going to close the gap?
Police brutality, crime and violence ran rampant in our communities long before Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill. A Bill I might add was pushed by the Black community faced with the Crack epidemic. What direct policies other then throwing money at it does either of these candidates support?
The citizens of the city of Flint, Michigan voted in a Mayor and City Counsel, the people of Michigan voted down the Emergency Manager law only to have the Governor and his cronies implement this law under the cover of night. What can the Federal Government do if anything at preventing Sovereign States from doing this in the future? What is either of the two Democratic candidates proposing?
There are a lot of incredibly intelligent Black folks out hear that have risen above and escaped these realities. However the masses of Black America still deal with this every day. In 2008 when I was on the streets registering people to vote, I heard often, “Why should I vote? It doesn’t change anything for me.” I didn’t like to hear that then and I don’t like hearing it now. I must conclude however, that they have a point. As long as we don’t make our issues a priority, why should they have trust in a system that doesn’t speak to their needs?
I did cast my vote; however I didn't cast my vote for Bernie or Hillary, and I cast my vote against Trump, Rubio or Cruz. I cast my vote out of fear that one of those three could possible win the election. Black America (with the exception of Barack Obama) has and continues to cast votes out of fear. That's politics some would say, but that fear also prohibits us from concentrating on the health of Black communities at large. Others say that they are voting for the lesser of the two evils. That statement alone implies we are voting for evil. We even have those that believe what’s good for America is good for Black America, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” History and statistics have proven that to be wrong. Our issues become secondary to issues white America is concerned about. We have serious social, economic, educational, and political issues. I don’t believe government is the answer to all our problems, however if I’m going to participate in this system, I have to do it with the concerns of Black people in mind. Anything else I might as well sit on the sidelines. If Black Lives Matter, it has to begin with us looking out for our own individual and collective interest.
Think Black in everything we do!