A woman seen waiting on line to cast her vote at the voting site located at Madison Square Garden during early voting for the U.S. Presidential election. – October 24, 2020 (Shutterstock)
By Victoria Falk
The United States 2020 Presidential Election is here, and every Black person eligible to do so must exercise their right to vote. Whether you vote by mail-in voting, absentee ballot, or at the polls, you must vote. How could we endure months of protests to state claim to the fact that Black lives matter, following the deaths of a growing number of unarmed Blacks by racist police officers, and then be silenced at election time? Failing to vote is like voluntarily falling to the ground and waiting for the knee to be placed on your neck, snuffing the life out of you, and killing your hopes for a better future.
In 2016, Donald Trump made grand promises to the American people. He promised that he would indeed “make America great again.” Let us review some of the great things President Trump has done for America. Was Donald Trump’s strong desire to build a wall to keep immigrants out of America and the use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to disrupt immigrant families that made America great? Was it his skill for inciting racism and fueling White Supremacist groups that made America great? Was it the revolving door at the White House as we watched the Trump administration members get fired, get arrested, and quit their positions that made America great again? Maybe it was his lies to the American people about the severity of the COVID-19. Was it his desire to end affordable health care in the middle of a pandemic that made America great again? No, it must be that President Donald Trump was impeached, which made America great again. How many more years can we survive Trump’s version of greatness?
When Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th president of the United States, many people could not believe it. With a history of shady business deals, this former reality television host and a reputation of being a womanizer, who had lost previously, was sworn into the highest office in our country. But many of those people who could not believe Donald Trump became President of the United States were people who failed to vote. There were many Blacks who did not bother to vote in the 2016 Presidential Elections. The excuses were varied. Some people did not believe Trump had a real chance of winning the presidency. Others did not think their vote counted.
Some voters avoided the polls because they did not like the idea of seeing either of the candidates, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, in office.
No excuse is a good excuse not to vote. Marc H. Morial, CEO of the National Urban League (NUL), stated during the organization’s recent Reclaim Your Vote: What’s at Stake for Black America: A Virtual Event that “full voter participation” is required from African-Americans during this presidential election. Morial insisted that “The African-American vote is a necessity, a must, a command, and a responsibility.” The NUL hosted a virtual event, which included Vice-Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala D. Harris, and prestigious Black experts, to discuss Black people’s importance reclaiming the vote this 2020 Presidential Election.
Since when has it become necessary to beg and plead with Black people to vote? There was a time in our nation’s history when Blacks rushed to the voting polls, despite feeling intimidated and the threat of getting beaten in the process. They knew the power of their vote and would not allow fear to stop them.
Esteemed professor, Michael Eric Dyson, reminded us that “many people died so we can vote.” He said, “Don’t let people discourage you from voting.”
Nowadays, apathy and voter suppression has stopped more Black people from voting than fear.
However, as each of the experts agreed, every vote counts. Amanda Seales, Comedian, and Activist said, “I’m so sad when I see my community so willingly duped. I just can’t stand by and watch things happen and be a silent bystander”. This is not the election to decide not to vote. Ms. Seales recalled the 2016 elections and shared her insight into why many Blacks did not vote. “People felt safe and didn’t think we’d go backward. But the voices of tyranny and anti-Blackness have become so amplified that they’ve become seemingly the norm”.
Election Day is November 3, 2020, and voting has already begun. According to reports, over 66 million Americans have already cast their vote.
Professor Dyson encouraged people to “know if you’re registered to vote, know when you can vote, and leverage democracy by exercising your right to vote.” Sadiqa Reynolds, Attorney and Civil Rights Activist, stated, “People need to vote. We must show we have more power. There is absolutely no excuse not to vote. Please, Black folks must vote. We have too much to lose”.
There are many critical issues at stake during the 2020 Presidential Elections. Ms. Reynolds stated, “People need jobs, justice, education, and housing. She spoke about getting to the “root causes of problems.” Evictions are up.” Ray B. Shackelford stated adamantly that “we are not solely concerned with social justice.
He said that housing, jobs, and education have always been our issues, and across the board, we are not getting what we need across the board. Angela Rye, social justice advocate, stated that it is time for the Black community to “unify around the things we care about and hold politicians’ feet to the fire.”
Democratic Vice-Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris thanked the National Urban League for the discussion and encouraging the Black vote. She said that she and Joe Biden would “lead with honesty, treat American people with respect, and implement a plan to get this pandemic under control. We will rebuild our economy to support working people, small businesses, and those who have been hurt the hardest by the pandemic”.
Whether you like Kamala Harris or Joe Biden or not, understand that American cannot withstand another four years of Donald Trump. Exercise your right to vote, this 2020 Presidential Election. Otherwise, you have no voice. Reclaim your vote, Black people. There is too much at stake for you not to vote.