By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
In our long struggle for freedom, justice, and equality, there have always been attempts to make some of us believe that there are just too many obstacles in our path or life journey and, as such, we should just throw in the towel, give up, and quit fighting for freedom and empowerment. Some national pundits, most on the conservative right, are overjoyed about their predictions that Black Americans are apathetic and emotionless about the Obama Administration and who no longer see a need for civil rights and racial justice concerns as priority issues.
Thus, there is an irritating increase in those doom’s day predictions about Black America’s future importance in the nation’s political and economic life. Slave masters and their great grandchildren have always relished the thought that one day African Americans would willingly return to the days of absolute plantation-like social dependence on the benevolence of those who maintain a White supremacist worldview and economic control to be the key players in determining the quality of life of the Black people not only in America, but also throughout the world. I am not shocked when these regressive tendencies arise around each election cycle. What does concern me, however, is when some African Americans start to mimic and repeat the backward mischief of those who have historically oppressed and exploited the Black community.
I think we have more reasons to go out and vote today than ever before. Take the issue of the need for a better quality education of our children. That issue alone should necessitate the responsible action of millions of African Americans to vote for educational reform on November 2, 2010. I agree with my long-time colleague, Kevin Chavous, Chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Chavous recently stated, “By now I’m sure you heard the academic achievement gap between White children and children of color has grown to the point that by the fourth grade, Black and Latino children are, on average, three academic years behind their White counterparts.” Chavous rightly has called for a “Revolution in Education” led by Black parents and others who really care about the future of our children’s education in America. Another timely shot in that “revolution” ought to be fired by millions and millions of Black people who should defy the so-called popular belief in Black apathy. We should vote in record numbers for our children. We should vote for educational reform in every state, congressional district, locality, and voting district.
Some groups are spending a lot of money to suppress the impact of the Black vote, like in the state of Florida with the “Unfair Voting Districts” constitutional amendments 5 and 6 on the Florida ballot. In other states, the media is constantly reporting that African Americans just don’t care about the upcoming elections. Then, there are some in the African American community who are afraid to use the terms that describe the condition of Black people in America for fear of being falsely accused of “reverse racism.” In other words, some of us have become uncomfortable in having to demand freedom and equal justice.
The whole purpose of this alert is to encourage you to not let anyone or anything break your spirit. African Americans have had hard times before now. But, we refused to give in to oppression and discrimination. We refused to allow others to define our realities and our dreams and aspirations. Yet, when it comes to the quality of life and the education of our children, we should never compromise. Voting for us was a hard fought civil right. But voting is also a present day responsibility. Let no one stand in your way to prevent you from voting. Keep your spirit strong! Let’s vote for a better future for our children’s education and development. Let’s vote for a better America, not a backward nation. We need a spiritual revival not just for ourselves, but for all.
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“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” ~ George Jean Nathan (1882-1958)