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Up With Hope?! Are We Wasting Our Vote?

Voting

Voting. That was always supposed to be the key to the African American kingdom, wasn’t it?

If we fought for the vote and died for the vote, well, then we’d be free, right? Well, we fought, we died and wouldn’t you know it; we got the vote.

But do you feel free?

We thought a little deeper and reasoned that the answer still laid in voting. Only now though, we’d vote for Democrats—who we assumed were in our corner—and perhaps more specifically, Democrats who looked like us. So today, our communities are run by Black, democratic politicians. We even helped push through a black president.

Feel free yet?

I understand how upsetting Republican rhetoric can be. I also understand why we may feel more comfy with Democrats because of the legacies of Presidents like Kennedy & Johnson. But please know that a Democrat who sits idly by while the city closes dozens of neighborhood schools and guts public education ain’t ish either. And please also understand that a Democrat who sits by silently while our blood spills in the streets at the hands of state sanctioned rogue actors is worthless, too.

If you don’t believe me, just look at St. Louis.

Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor who oversaw the Michael Brown case is a Democrat. Were you satisfied with that case’s outcome? Can you honestly tell me that things would have been remarkably different had a Republican been in that office? And this is not even a race issue. All you have to do is look at Baltimore. They have a Black, Democratic mayor and prosecutor but to date, there still hasn’t been one conviction in the death of Freddie Gray. And what about the city of Cleveland? The city of Cleveland actually filed an affidavit saying 12-year old Tamir Rice was responsible for his own death. Cleveland’s mayor, Frank Jackson, is a Black Democrat.

To be clear, I’m not trying to bash Democrats. I’m merely trying to call attention to the smoke and mirrors. You see, it doesn’t really matter which party we vote for if both parties are sworn to uphold the same “system.” When I say system, I mean that I’m a Black person living in urban America. There are pockets of my community that are overrun with violence and joblessness. Neighborhood schools are being closed and the smell of gentrification is ever present in the air.

The relationship between my community and the police has been strained by recent, well-documented incidents of unnecessary force that have taken place over the past few years. And the sad part is you don’t even know where I live, but if you’re Black in urban America, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

How is that possible? How can we live all over the country, yet somehow all be held hostage by the same terrible conditions no matter where we live? It’s possible because there are rules, laws, policies and systems in place to keep things this way.

I think we need fewer Democrats & Republicans and more revolutionaries. We need politicians who are willing to acknowledge that the system is rigged. We need politicians who are willing to make the radical changes many Americans need in order to truly advance in our society. We need to stop voting for mediocre politicians and wondering why we’re still living in hell. We need to hold our politicians accountable and remove them from office when they serve as our apologists instead of our advocates.

Voting may make us feel like citizens. And voting for the candidate we like may make us feel good, but those votes are totally futile if they’re not getting us closer to the freedom we’ve been looking for since we stepped off of the ship.

Keep up with Sylvia Snowden at www.trulysylvia.com