by Dr. Boyce Watkins
As the 2012 presidential election approaches, I’m honestly a little concerned about those who guilt trip you into voting for parties that don’t care much about you by telling you how hard our ancestors fought for you to be able to vote. The same Democratic Party that didn’t have a thing to say to us for four years about mass incarceration, urban violence, or black unemployment is suddenly showing up at every black church in America pretending to be our allies. They remind you of how Dr. King and others marched to help you get the right to vote, how the Republicans are seeking to take your rights away, and that they are with you in the fight to ensure that you can show up to the polling station and keep their party in power.
But, on the flip of that conversation, Democratic Party ears are completely deaf when black people tell them what they need them to do for our community. It reminds me of a bad marriage, where the husband says, “A good wife is loyal to her husband,” right as he slams her face into the stove and demands that she bake him more cookies. This is a complete disgrace, and I am befuddled by the ease with which Democratic leaders are quick to pull dead black leaders from the grave to make you feel that by expressing legitimate discontent for the failed two-party political process, you are somehow dishonoring their legacy.
Yes, our ancestors fought diligently for our rights, but their fight is consistently misinterpreted by those who seek to manipulate you into a one-sided political transaction.
Our ancestors fought for us to have the RIGHT to vote, not the OBLIGATION. Being FORCED to vote for parties that don’t respect you can be nearly as oppressive as not being allowed to vote at all. It’s like fighting for the right to eat in a restaurant where they only give you two disgusting meals to choose from. By serving you one unhealthy meal after another and then forcing you to pay for it, the restaurant owners are clearing saying, “We really don’t want you here and we dare you to go cook your own food.”
I would never be one to tell anyone to stay home from the polls, but for those who complain about voters who aren’t inspired enough to take a day off work to put the Democrats back in power, they need to ask themselves, “Why in the hell didn’t our party do enough to make these people want to come out and support us? Why didn’t we listen when they told us about black babies being killed in the street? Why are we entirely responsive when whites complain about 7% unemployment, but unresponsive when black people complain about 14.3% unemployment? Why have we sat silently during the holocaust of mass incarceration that has destroyed millions of black families across America?”
To whom much is given, much is required. To ask for something while giving nothing yourself is nothing short of a pathetic, manipulative, welfare mentality. Only a deceptive liar would show up to the home of a relative they have forsaken and ask that person for an expensive loan. That is what the Democratic Party has done, and that is simply unforgivable.
Here’s a note to the Democrats: Stop trying to guilt trip black people to the polls and instead show them that you are worthy of their time. Stop backing African Americans into a corner by making them believe that if they don’t show up and pull the lever for your party, they are going to be put back into chains. Stop stealing our vote by telling us how bad the other party is and instead earn our votes by proving that your own party is worthy of our time. We are not your slaves, and we don’t owe you our vote. All we owe ourselves is the freedom to make our own decisions, and THAT is what our ancestors fought to give us.
We know for a fact that the Republicans would have a difficult time giving us something worse than 14.3% black unemployment, and at least if a Republican were in office, we’d have the nerve to speak up about the disparity. To expect African Americans to believe that voting for anyone is going to improve their condition is to only remind us that we need the Democrats to protect us in the way that a mother protects her handicapped child. We are not handicapped, and we don’t need you to save us. We only need you to start doing your job.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. He is also the creator of the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Series. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.