Maybe I’ve missed it, but have any of the 2016 Presidential hopefuls begin to articulate how they will address black issues? Have they begin to answer any of the following questions: What are you going to do about the police officers who murder unarmed black men, women, boys and girls? What are you going to do about police brutality? You know the inhumane way that a police officer brings a bathing suit wearing teen age girl to the ground by her braids and then holds her down with his knee in her back. What are you going to do about a
system that allows a black male to stay in prison, solitary confinement no less, to be beaten and mentally scared for three years without a trial. Damaging him so much mentally, that he takes his life after being released. What are you going to do about a law that allows you to #StandYourGround even though you start a fight or your victim is unarmed you get away with murdering them. What are you going to do about the dilapidated school system in black communities that desperately need at minimum books, walls and working indoor plumbing? Oh, how about this question. Who would you have to serve as Attorney General? And how will you direct them to protect the right to vote?
Honestly, have any of their statements about the recent terror attacks on Mother Emanuel AME Church offered anything but their “sincere” thoughts, prayers or condolences? Any policies on how they would propose to either bring people to justice or change the circumstance? If not, they can keep their statements. The issues in the Black community are not new. It’s not like there needs to be extensive research. In fact, how to address Black issues should have been top of mind when they were merely thinking about running. Not only should they be consistently talking to Black people about our issues and what their administration would do to alleviate those problems or the policies they would put in place that would attempt to dismantle the systemic racism that is in the very fabric of this country.
I understand, the black community may not have been top of mine when they were planning to run. So, it is imperative that the Black community does not allow them to get away with not addressing us and our concerns. In a thought provoking OpEd a few weeks ago, Corey Ealons (yes, that’s my husband!) shared his thoughts on the “new” identity politics. In his article, he asked the question what does the new identity politics mean for black voters. Well, I believe it means we must be more vigilant in our requirement of candidates of our needs. We should not only ask of them what your plans are for our community but we should also offer clear and concise ideas and policies that will begin to address our issues. We can’t allow them to stay silent or for some provide a whisper of concern. We must engage, vote, advocate and contribute financially to the political process with all our power like never before.
To that end, here’s my #politcalpearl for the 2016 Presidential candidates: Keep your statements of condolences, apologies or restatement of what we already know. If the statements aren’t followed with a clear articulation of your plans for the black community, then they are mere words. You’ve got to earn our votes and keep our votes. And my #politicalpearl for the black community and those who stand with us: Let’s pool our financial resources, educate ourselves on the political process, vote consistently, advocate daily and hold those elected and want be elected accountable. We no longer can afford to simply vote and not be consistent. We no longer can afford not to provide specific requests with policies that can address our concerns. We no longer can leave our issues in the hands of a select few, but we must come out in large numbers and make a lot of noise. Candidates and elected officials cannot have the opportunity to overlook us or take us for granted. But earn our votes to keep or gain their jobs!