Voting in Black America

Austin T. Gibson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Many people in the African American community complain about what they don’t like about the government today.  They feel as though they aren’t being heard, and in most cases they’re right they aren’t heard.  Why is that..?  Well its simple we don’t vote!  We have big turnouts in presidential elections, but that’s not where the biggest impact is made.

We have three levels of government: Local, State, and Federal.  The two that affect you the most in your daily life are local and state because laws passed in your cities and states affect you more immediately than those passed on the federal level.  For example, schools, parks, streets, police, fire departments, and all public resources in your cities and towns are controlled by the local government, not the federal government. Thus, your local government deciding to cut money for schools will come into effect right away, or if they make a law saying cops don’t need to have probable cause to search citizen’s persons that will also come into effect right away.   

The same goes for the state; they could pass a law saying they won’t give grants for schools, or cut funding for a public colleges/universities.  This would cause tuition to go sky high and become unaffordable for impoverished citizens which are minorities.  All of these can happen, and some are already in the process of happening.  If you don’t pay attention to the laws that are trying to be passed, or listen to the polices of candidates runningfor office you are not following through on the most important right you have as a citizen. 

The only way we can make sure are voices are heard is if we all go to the polls, but also know what issues the politicians we are voting in office care about.  Furthermore, we have to know how they plan on addressing these issues.  A lot of politicians say what we want to hear but don’t act on anything they say they would.  Look at their track record see how they have done in the past, and really see if this person is a man/woman of his/her word or a bag of hot air.   

Make sure you pick the city councilperson who handles all local issues and will speak up for your needs.  Make sure you pick a Mayor who listens to the needs of the people.  Same goes for the State Senators, State Representatives, Judges, DA’s, and the Governor.  After making sure that your local and state government have the people in office handling the needs of its people,then it’s time to elect your federal level officials such as your Congressmen/women, Representatives of the House, and the President.

You can affect whether your congressmen/women, representatives of the House, and President will have a job.  Will they listen to your voice? Will they pass fair judgements and make laws that are for the people?  The constitution says, “We the people,’” not, “We the powerful and rich.”  Our ancestors died for us to have the right to vote, and for us not to use that right is not only an insult, but stupidity.  Let’s be the change we want to see, and not wait for it.  Change will only work if we stand together as a tribe and show them that we will not be ignored!