I suppose that it's been the culmination of several recent thought-provoking posts here lately that really got me to thinking about the problem of our lack of unity and the problem that causes for harnessing any real power in this country … let alone using it effectively and to our primary benefit.
While realizing that it’s endemic for us due to our history and circumstance, as well as it being a condition of a highly self-centered mentality in modern times, it’s crippling to us as a people that we can’t even organize over things by which we are all (or at least a majority of us are) affected (i.e., racism, the (in)justice system, discriminatory economic policies, the (mis-)education of our children, etc.) … let alone agree on important matters such as what should be done, how or by whom.
And we are getting nowhere fast acting as individuals instead of a unit. In fact, in many ways, we have taken a step backwards … and in many categories are doing worse, not better, in the area of progress than the generation that came before us.
So, I got to thinking … what could possibly be a "solution" to that? What would be something that could bring us all together … that all of us could rally around and agree – at least basically - on that would effectively propel us forward and produce tangible results? Especially for the young people who seem to be more graphic than nostalgic … and prefer to see instant gratification of accomplishment to prove that something rewarding is indeed being done.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that at least one of those things .. and probably the most powerful of them all ... would be something we already have access to … and that would be exercising our right to vote.
Voting is seldom recognized for its power and influence. But when used effectively, it can and has been used to sway positive outcomes for a number of various special interest, ethnic and racial groups.
One of the main reasons that we don't see the type of benefits possible from voting is that most of us simply don't do it … especially in elections at the local and state level. President Obama's recent election was historic in the number of people of ALL demographics that went to the polls. Additional millions of young, first time, never-before-never-again, and non-politically-interested individuals voted in this election alone for a variety of different reasons.
But, in the recent local and state primary elections, less than 40% of the eligible electorate went out and cast a vote. Of course, the majority of them were White (as always). The nationwide percentages for eligible Black voters were put somewhere around 20%, I believe. But having the power and using it are two different things entirely.
The vote is something we already have … not something that we have to struggle to obtain before we use it. It's an established method for gaining power at many levels. As far as unity goes, we basically vote as a (unified) bloc already .. not because we're stupid, as some people like to surmise, but because we pretty much have the same basic (moral) values of right and wrong, equality and justice - as a culture and as a people. (Though the 'moral' issue is a shaky line these days, but that's another subject and another thread! ) Those of us that do vote generally vote what we perceived to be our best interests – both individually and as a community. And that perception, for the most part, is pretty much the same.
Our biggest problem, as I foresee it, is getting the non-voting members of our community to become interested in the process. Since that breaks down along a large number of variables and demographics, there are, I'm sure there are a variety of different and creative ways of getting that done! But all Black “leaders”, organizations, activists and even the Black clergy need to be involved in mobilizing this highly powerful and critical tool to be used in our favor.
It’s a game-changer in "The Game" that America plays with its citizens. Voting to place certain people in places of power and position is the way national business is conducted and an intricate part of the American way of life. You can bet that come November – and in every other election to come – the Republicans, (known enemies of Black America) are going to use this very method to try to regain control of the government.
In fact, they've already told us that this is their plan of action. They intend to "vote" the Democrats out of office. And, as always, they are destined to win … because we can’t help but lose if we don’t put up a comparative and parallel fight.
IMO, effective voting is a road on which we can pick up the materials we need to build the foundation for a strong, self-supportive, prosperous and successful community. The power to effect social, political and economic change for ourselves and the future of our children from our local surroundings to federal law can be achieved if we pool our numbers together through the simple process of the vote. It took blood, sweat and lives to secure this very important right of citizenship for us … and for a very good reason. It’s powerful.
It can give us a united voice for empowerment that would be a whole lot louder if we could only get our people to use it to speak.