Why Should The Black Community Vote?
By: Deveney Marshall
“Does voting help the black community?”
Many young black people asked this question all over social media as we prepared to vote for this past midterm elections. At first, the question infuriated me. I thought it was beyond ignorant for someone to ask such a thing. Prior to the 2016 election, we watched this country *slowly* progress to being a better place for all. During Obama's presidency, The Affordable Health Care Act was passed, unemployment rates significantly dropped, better terms for student loans were created, and the LGBTQ community was awarded the right to legally marry — all had a grand impact on black lives and each took place by voting. So when I saw people asking this it just didn't make sense.
I began to reflect on what exactly did those people mean by voting doesn't do anything for the black community. I came up with a few theories but none of them were solid enough to be the sole reason. Then, I asked myself ”who is the black community?” The short answer would be all of us that fall within the parameter of being black, but the truth is it's incredibly more complex than that.
When you think about it, defining the black community is not easy. Black people are not monolithic, we don't all have the same experiences. Depending on our genders, sexual orientation, socioeconomic classes, and physicality our experiences differ. However, the one thing all black people deal with is the unspeakable fear and pain that hangs above our heads every day. Sadly, that pain and fear we collectively feel is what creates the basis of our community. And while voting may eradicate a lot of things, it will not remove that.
The oppression and backlash we receive as black people have been ingrained in the foundation of this country, and quite frankly it is not something we can “vote out.” On some level, all Americans including Black Americans, participate in the oppression we feel as a race — in order for that to change we would have to first acknowledge how each and every one of us contributes to it. We can’t continue to blame all -isms on white supremacy. Yes, white supremacy acted as the catalyst for all hate in this country, it still does not excuse the suffering we inflict on one another.
As a people, we engage in colorism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and transphobia, and a vast amount of our people are significantly affected when we do. We can’t continue to act as if certain issues aren’t problems for the black community. If something is negatively affecting one of us, then it collectively affects all of us — as a marginalized community, we don’t get the luxury of excluding some of our people.
We vote to dismantle systems that oppress us.
While most of us can agree a severe overhaul is needed to change the way Black People are oppressed in this country, in the meantime we can do what we can to fix the problem, and one of those solutions is voting. Voting gives us the opportunity to change the world we live in. It gives us the right to choose better policies and people to represent our voices. Voting may not be able to solve all of the black community’s problems, but it does have an impact on us. When we don't vote we allow this country to control our narrative — and I don't know about you but I am sick and tired of this country telling me who I am, what I face, and what my solutions should be.
Stop allowing non-voters tell you voting doesn't do anything for us as black people, it does plenty. If our votes didn't make a difference in this country they wouldn't try so hard to suppress them. I know we hate to acknowledge this, but we are still Americans, facing American issues, and those same policies that affect everyone else, affects us too. When you vote, you are voting for the change you want to see as a Black American, and that alone will have a great influence on the Black community.
Until Next Time,
*Deveney Marshall is a New Orleans-based filmmaker, actress, and freelance writer. She runs the lifestyle & beauty website thedevandthecity.com. Follow her thoughts & life on twitter and IG: @devandthecity