“If you are living out of a sense of obligation you are a slave.” –Wayne Dyer.
Have Black Millenials become a slave to the obligation to vote? There seems to be an unequivocal dedication to voting amongst most Black Millennials. But we can’t help it. We’ve been groom to do so. It started far before we reached the legal age to vote. First, it’s stories. The stories of how those before us died for your right to go and cast a ballot. Then there are the movies. We see it for ourselves. We see the beatings, the hangings, and humiliation; all for us to stand in that booth. We even brush over the topic a bit during black history month, while talking about Martin Luther King of course in high school. By the time we are eighteen it’s engrained in our mind, and heart, that voting is our duty. We are obligated to be registered and vote.
Then at some point, our obligation is not only limited to voting. We become obligated to be an informed voter. This is the plot twist for the Black Millennial. We research for ourselves instead of voting for whoever our parents are voting for, or whoever has Democrat next to their name. With all this being true, how we can uphold our obligation to be informed voters, and from the information gathered uphold our obligation to vote? The goal is to vote for policies and people that represent us, our communities, and most align with our beliefs.
We see beyond the obvious
Black Millenials see beyond campaign commercials and party affiliations. We don’t believe everything we hear, and social media is booming with articles and blogs on the leading candidates. We can know a person’s entire life with a Google search. In addition to all of the accessible information, half of our friends list become political analyst during election season. With the accessibility of information if anyone is not informed their ignorance is a choice. Black Millennials have realized that the two leading candidates for President of the United States are a choice between one candidate that has displayed behavior of every -ist imaginable, (racist, misogynist, sexist, etc.) and one candidate that has supported legislation that has been detrimental to the black community, deletes emails, and simply cannot be trusted.
The obligation to vote, and the obligation to be an informed voter cannot coexist. Many Black Millenials have chosen to abandon the obligation to vote, to uphold the obligation to be informed and vote in their best interest. This has created a divide in the black community because many believe that there is no power not voting. I would argue that there is power in making a candidate earn your vote. At this point in the current election, neither leading candidate fully represents the interests of the black community based on their track records. However, even in becoming informed Black Millennials will still uphold our obligation to vote. Forced into choosing the lesser of two evils out of respect for the people that sacrificed for us to have this opportunity.
Even with all of this information many Black Millenials, including myself, will be in the booth, casting an informed vote for a candidate that is not representative of us simply because we feel obligated. Vote or die, vote or don’t complain, vote or shut up, you just better VOTE! Why? Because it’s your duty. Your vote as a Black Millennial is not about you. It’s for those that came before you because this is what your ancestors fought and died for. It is your obligation. But is this what they died for?
Before I would have answered yes. Our ancestors died so we could vote. It wasn’t until I read a post on my friend Kerene’s facebook status that I really took a step back to think, and I respect the decision of not voting. For the first time, it crossed my mind. I know that what my ancestors died for is much deeper than just checking a box. Our ancestors knew there was power in making politicians at both the federal and state level earn our vote by supporting policies and creating laws that represent us, our communities, and most align with our beliefs.
It was never about voting for the candidate that we hope will do us the least harm. Yet, here we are, somewhere between “I’m not with her, but I can’t with him,” and “I’m not voting at all.” The dilemma right now is which choice I could sleep with at night if Donald Trump actually wins the election. I’m still trying to completely figure out where my power lies. Is it in making a candidate earn my vote, or voting out of obligation?
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” –Harriet Tubman
Check Kerene’s status below. Read the comments if you have time. You won”t be disappointed.
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