This morning while listening to my local talk radio station, I heard an interview with a variety of college students about the upcoming election. The interview centered around each student’s alignment with their chosen political party and views on voting choices.
The republican students interviewed were primarily voting for the republican candidate based on the belief that he will strengthen the economy. The concern was that they want to graduate college knowing that they will have a greater opportunity for employment and believed the republican candidate would provide that.
The students aligned with the democratic party were voting democrat primarily because they did not believe the country would survive four additional years of the present administration. However, all of them were not necessarily pleased with the candidate. They inferred that democrats are too often placed in a position where they are expected to vote for a candidate that is weak on so many issues.
One student addressed the idea that some people were choosing not to vote because these were tense times and she understood but for her that was not the option. She alluded to the fact that so often “our people,” meaning Black people, are placed in a position where we must make decisions for survival.
So, the question becomes, can Black people survive another term of the present administration? That young woman’s observation struck me. Black people in this country, whether consciously or unconsciously, are always operating in survival mode. “I just need to stay alive.” Simply staying alive is always at the forefront of our mind. Economic advancement, social status, political power, summer vacations, college funds, monetary investments and other “American Dream,” thoughts play a far second to the thought of staying alive.
My mind went to a scene of an enslaved Black man who knows that when the plantation master sends for his wife it the middle of the night, it was to rape her. Yet, he could not stop her from going nor could he fight for her honor. If he stopped her from going, he would be beaten or killed, and master would still have her. If he fought for her honor, he would be killed, and their children killed or sold, and master would still have her. So, he does nothing. He chooses survival. His family lives another day. This decision-making process is still at work in us even today. That is what “the talk,” is all about, how to stay alive another day.
There is no “exhale” moment for us. There is never a time when we are totally and completely relaxed without a care in the world. The average Black person knows this and operates in a constant state of conscious breathing because they know how quickly that breath can be taken away.
Some Black people, those who have amassed money and small amounts of power among our people, seemingly do not realize that status and money do not relieve you of your melanin state of being. They encourage our people not to vote.
Thinking that they have “arrived” at their destination of capitalistic equality, they protect their own interest. Yet, they are Pinocchio on a marionets string, performing at the puppeteer’s commands while thinking they are free. This is their survival tactic, yet it does nothing to advance the community to which they must return when the strings are cut, and they are left sprawled on the stage in an abandoned theater.
COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting the lives of Black people. The threat of eliminating health insurance for the poor will leave large numbers of Black people without adequate health care. States, such as the one I live in are building mega prisons and providing substandard education to ensure that they are filled. Police officers who took an oath to serve and protect all citizens are gunning down Black people for sport. Once again, we are finding Black bodies hanging from trees in public spaces. Food desserts make it impossible for Black people to locate and purchase healthy food and cities populated by Black people still have contaminated water. These examples represent only a sample of the systems in operation to ensure that Black people either exist in a state of docility or die.
Can the Black population in America survive four additional years of the present administration? Answer that question. Then vote.