An essay exploring the hot topic in the Black American group on whether we as a people should vote or not.
Written by Tiffany Tubman
October 22, 2017
Instead of waiting until the next major election in 2018, we may as well have this discussion now. A few days ago, on Twitter, I engaged a Twitter friend and Melanoid Nation family member, Sylvia, in an in-depth discussion on this issue of serious consequence for Black Americans, America and the World.
This conversation took place between a scientist and an attorney (political scientist). Sylvia (@Tellall2012) is a lawyer and managing partner to her own practice in New Jersey. She is also a blogger and writer. Tiffany (@montswife16) is a molecular biologist and clinical/medical director in the healthcare industry. She is a mom, wife, and now turned advocate of ending systematic white supremacy and writer for Melanoid Nation.
For the argument sake and to have an educational dialogue, Tiffany took the position of being against Black Americans voting and Sylvia took the position that Black Americans should vote. Full disclosure: the grammar has been corrected since we are no longer bound to 140 characters to express a point. Commentary provided by Sylvia is italicized below.
TIFFANY: We (Black Americans) cannot vote if we do not have a voice. People are stealing our vote and doing nothing for our group in return.
SYLVIA: I think we need to vote for the right people, for a multitude of reasons. First, the system is broken and discriminated against us. In order to fix the system, we need people with the courage to change it. Second, voting is leverage. The only way to control people in Congress and the President is to vote. Also, we cannot just vote in Federal elections. We need to be voting for city prosecutors, mayors City Council, Governors, and state legislators in local and state elections. That is why I think voting for the right people is critical. Voting just to vote has no effect. Voting to change something is what we should be aspiring to do. Voting in elections that will have no impact on ourselves is fruitless. Also, we need to be pushing our own candidates. We cannot rely on others to tell us who we should be voting for. Neither party truly cares about our issues. They exploit our situation for politics.
TIFFANY: How do we as Blacks determine the right people? We can no longer give Black skin a pass when so many are disappointed by former President Obama and his Administration.
SYLVIA: That is the problem and mistake we made. We had no reason, given Obama’s past, to believe he would be a champion for us. We support him. Everyone in office, in my opinion, is worthless. None of them are truly aligned with us (Black Americans). For example, I want to replace the entire CBC (Congressional Black Caucus).
TIFFANY: Ok keep talking. They are old so this is becoming more and more plausible!
TIFFANY: You mentioned his (Obama’s) history. What specifically in his history did we miss?
SYLVIA: He dated only white women until he married Michelle. He had mostly white friends his entire life. He did not live or relate to his black side. He never even stated he was running on a black agenda. He never promised black people anything. He spoke vaguely about hope and change.
TIFFANY: We never stated what we expected from him either. So, going forward, how can we effectively communicate these expectations?
SYLVIA: Exactly!!!! That’s the problem and mistake we made. We had no reason, given Obama’s past, to believe he would be a champion for us. We support him. We didn’t demand anything from him either. We just accepted that he was black and must be for us. Although he sold us out constantly.
TIFFANY: Why is voting locally so important? Why can’t we just focus on the presidential election?
SYLVIA: Majority of the decisions that affect us daily are made at the local level. Our prisons are run by States. Our roads, schools, facilities Are all run by the State. We need to vote for Sheriff’s who don’t allow white supremacy infiltration. Sheriffs are local. (Translation: Know and get to know these people that we have the power to elect/re-elect and can directly facilitate creating a system of justice and ending systematic white supremacy.)
TIFFANY: How do we establish, fund and push our own candidates? This does not sound feasible or possible?
SYLVIA: I think I agree with you. The only reason we cannot is that we have been brainwashed into believing in dependency. We have always just done as we are told to do. We support who we are told to support. We do not independently make these decisions. Also, we are not unified. Our biggest problem is the dependency. I am not just referring to economic dependency either. We have been conditioned to believe that we cannot function as group with the input and assistance of white people.
TIFFANY: Then why vote? We cannot stop this exploitation. They do not care about our issues!
SYLVIA: Great question. I think it is still important because I always prefer the lessor of two evils. If we do not, vote we get another Trump who will do so much damage to us that we will be powerless to overcome. We must stop voting straight Democrat. We are the only group that votes monolithically which gives us no leverage. Our votes are taken for granted. We never have any leverage like all other groups because no one must court us to obtain our votes. (Translation: They know we will vote Democrat so they take a few pictures with some black people as a customary campaign tradition and trust we will take the bait. EXCEPT: Many of us did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election).
TIFFANY: We never stated what we expected from him either. So, going forward, how can we effectively communicate these expectations?
SYLVIA: Exactly! Politicians only care about re-election. They do absolutely nothing worthwhile while in office. However, they cannot get elected without voters. We need to make sure that we hold them accountable or we fire them.
TIFFANY: How do we use them as voting leverage? So, do we vote as a group or do we vote randomly for either party and not be dedicated to neither Democrat or Republican?
SYLVIA: We need to vote randomly. We need both parties trying to get our votes. Republicans have just written us off because we vote robotically. I could not see myself ever voting Republican after Trump, but I am not just going to vote for a Democrat who does not align with my interests. The Republicans are even trying to court Hispanic voters but do not even care to court us (Ex: all attention on Puerto Rico and no real and substantiate focus on US Virgin Islands). That is not leverage. No one will do anything for us if we continue to be so predictable. I think the first thing we need to do is get our house in order. Uplift our communities invest in ourselves. Support black owned businesses. (Aggregate.) Unify around similar causes. Then we can start demanding things. But when they think we need them, they disrespect us. Most people take advantage of people in need.
TIFFANY: So, we have both parties court our group then vote with the winner every time? This means we would be independent and could be a swing vote?
TIFFANY: While we reorganize, should we not vote so they realize our impact? This seems the best approach and we deal with the consequences.
SYLVIA: Generally, I would say we should not vote until we reorganize. But, in the age of Trump we must vote. Trump will get so many people killed and that is not a consequence I am willing to endure. Look what they are doing to us now and we have no recourse. Therefore, I say we vote until we get Trump out of office.
TIFFANY: I respectfully disagree. We (Black Americans) have been dying at the same rates as we have for the past decades. (We, as a group, are at the same place we were at the eve of the end of the Civil War.) Blacks have not died at a higher rate under Trump. I think the White Hispanics need to switch to Democrats and vote him out of office. He is becoming more of a threat to that group because they have included themselves as white for so long. Now Trump is reminding them of their melanin/POC status. Black Americans should not vote. Yes, Black Americans are suffering and yes, we are under attack but we lack self-respect which leads to unity and group empowerment. All our efforts must be focused on the internal infrastructure now or else we continue to give them a “one more time pass”.
SYLVIA: We have. (Agrees with Tiffany). However, it has become acceptable to openly hate us. It is not just about death for me, but the ability to be openly racist and act on that racism. We have white supremacist/white nationalist terrorist doing open torch lightings, murdering their opposition, and opening fire at public gatherings. We have Jeff Sessions who is putting in place programs to target Black Americans specifically. They are rolling back police reform. Trump is targeting black athletes. He is openly targeting our Black War Heroes. That is why we must fix our own house first. We need to be investing in ourselves. For example, I noticed that we are more likely to retweet a white person condemning racism than a black person. We will request CNN before retweeting the same story from a black magazine.
TIFFANY: They count on us more than they admit fixing crap like this! We must draw the line.
SYLVIA: I am with you on drawing the line. But I want Trump gone. He is an existential threat to black people in this country.
TIFFANY: I prefer my racism overt so we do not get comfortable under the illusion of inclusion. Discomfort brings change!
SYLVIA: I was just about to say this!!! I am happy to see my enemies in the light than in the dark. But just knowing my enemy is not enough. It is what I do to fight my enemy that matters. We should not have ever gotten comfortable thinking we were included. We became complacent.
TIFFANY: Yes, yes and yes. Sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never destroy us! We must take a stand. We are at war and yes, we will lose some people. That happens in war but our children are being indoctrinated with lies at school. As parents, we must send them to school which is hurting Blacks. We must fight now so our children and grandchildren stand a chance. Voting, or in this case, not voting is a strategic mean to a better end for Black America. We are neglected and underserved.
SYLVIA: Every other group exploits the voting process. They demand things from candidates. We ask for nothing and get nothing.
TIFFANY: How do we make our demands heard?
SYLVIA: The first thing is we need to become more economically self-sufficient. Money talks, everything else is just noise. We need to invest in our own programs. We need to support each other and promote unification. (Demand more from churches and community organizations taking our money as well)! We also, need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. As Bob Marley would say. They have made us hate ourselves and continuously fight to be accepted. We need to instill in our children there. (This is also fueling “Black on Black” crime.)
TIFFANY: How do we emancipate ourselves from mental slavery?
SYLVIA: First, we must accept that we are brainwashed. We cannot get sensitive anymore about criticism of ourselves. We are brainwashed. People become brainwashed, they are not born that way. Some people we will not be able to save as the self-hate is so ingrained. But we need to change the imagery we see. We need to dismantle the stereotypes. We need to challenge the prejudices and encourage our children to love Their black skin. Our children watch mostly white programs on Disney, Nick, etc… they need to be watching black networks/programs too. They need to know their true history. Not this watered-down nonsense they learn in school. It is our job, us woke people, to fight for this.
We ended the discussion on this note. However, the take away lesson is simple. This is not a reason to vote:
We must stop accepting the brainwash that me must vote. We must challenge any teaching or expectation the system of white supremacy has given us. We must think critically and define conduct for our own group. That means, we take back the remote control and their free reign ability to control the outcome for our group or we will continue to have no resources and be underserved.
As Black Americans, our message must be clear. Any candidate running for office, regardless of political party or affiliation, should not ask for the Black vote unless they are stepping forward (present tense just like they do for photo opportunities) and clearly acknowledging racism in the only form we know (systematic white supremacy) as a total system structure. We need a plan of action for any politician courting our vote on what steps they can take to create a true system of justice. Racism is a form of power and we have none. We, as a group, cannot even demand an apology and get it. Protecting our group and promoting our group is not racism, it is called survival.
We must understand that we must unite with each other to break the system of white supremacy. We cannot get caught up on socioeconomic status, skin tone, or hair quality. We can longer afford to allow feminism, LBGT, and other lifestyle movements high jack our voice. In any and every issue, if we are not talking about systematic white supremacy, we are not talking about the issue.
In studying the culture of the white nationalist, I have noted an alarming pattern. Not only are they high-jacking our movements (like kneeling during the anthem), they are changing our narrative (giving other meanings to our purpose), and now trying to shame Black Americans by adding the #MAGA in any public posting depicting Black Americans fighting or behaving in a manner that dehumanizes us and justifies their mistreatment of our group.
I received this message from a Melanoid Family member today:
We must control our own narrative. In warfare, one tactic used is guerilla warfare. This is chess, not checkers. As much as we dislike the #MAGA trend, we have tools to use to get our messages out as well. Images of black love and black excellence should be high jacked so when they search #MAGA they see our best images of humanity as well. Either they will change their opinion or change the hashtag but we will control the narrative.
Stay safe and stay on code.