BLACK VOTES MATTER MORE THAN YOU THINK
By Curtis Everette Gatewood, Minister
I realize, as Black people or the lovers of justice, we do not have much to show for our votes at the national level. We have a White House in need of pests control as the rats and roaches of corruption crawl in the darkness of evil.
The malodorous fumes from racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-immigration, fascism, and reckless warmongering cause a dispiriting feeling of nausea throughout the land. Yet, with that said, Black votes matter more than you think.
Our votes elect local Mayors and city councils who enforce laws locally; who hire and give directives to the police chiefs who hire the police whom many of which have never gotten that memo which says “Black Lives Matter.” This is why Black votes matter.
Our votes elect the local Sheriffs who lead the armed deputies; they represent another powerful force of law enforcement at the county level who must be held accountable just as police to ensure the eradication of racial profiling, wrongful deadly force, and misconduct. We must use every possible tool at our disposal to make sure every imaginable level of so-called “Law Enforcement” must stop Killing our men; stop killing our women; stop killing our youth; stop killing our children.
Black lives may or may not matter to certain evil principalities and certain evil people in high places; this is why Black votes matter – we must elect those in every instance possible in every electable office where the opportunity exists who understand that Black Matter and how this wicked system be righteously overhauled in a way where it stops killing us.
Our votes elect school boards who can either exacerbate or eliminate the death sentence of out of school suspension for poor black children; they have the power to either exacerbate or eliminate the pipeline to prison.
And if Black folks are not willing to come together and defend their Black children in every way imaginable including at the ballot box, you can say “Black Lives Matter” until you are blue in the face – but if Black Lives do not matter to the local school boards across this country this country it means Black Lives will not matter in kindergarten; Black Lives will not matter in middle school. And if Black lives do not matter in preschool, early childhood education, or middle school – we will have lost what Fredrick Douglass alluded to when he said “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Our votes elect local county and city officials who govern local municipalities or rural systems. Together they control industry, business development, community investments, housing, funding for local schools, contracts/pay, utilities, ordinances, water, and a wide array of life’s necessities. Under no uncertain terms should we withhold our voting voice as these locally elected officials powerfully control and determine much of what or who “matters.” Black Lives will continue to not matter if we walk away from the table of civic engagement. It has been said, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”
Our votes elect Governors. Most governors have broad authority to nominate officials to serve in state executive branch positions—many of whom will be included in the governor’s advisory committee, known as the “cabinet.” Governors may also be empowered to make appointments to state judgeships. Governors have the power to declare a “State of Emergency” and bring in the National Guard. Just think about that for a minute.
Governors often have a say in who will be put to death by a death penalty which has historically, clearly and repetitiously yelled out the words Black and Poor Lives Do Not Matter. This is why Black votes matter.
Our votes elect state legislators who work with the governor in passing state budgets that prioritize
how your state’s tax dollars will be spent; drafting and passing state laws
that impact towns, cities, counties and local municipalities within the state. In fact, state elected officials often use “interposition and nullification” – what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out in his “I have a dream” speech. This means in certain instances states may pass laws that reject or “nullify” a certain progressive federal law such as parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act or portions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
In fact, if your vote did not matter, why would you think certain racist at the federal and state levels spend so much time and money trying to suppress black votes? For example, the Supreme Court Decision in Shelby v. Holder undermined critical parts of the Voting Rights Act, removing preclearance and giving the green light for the acceleration of copycat voter suppression and voter restriction laws to be driven through disproportionately African American states/districts across the country.
They are taking these desperate and extreme measures to block voting because Black voting elected the first Black President. Black votes matter.
Fortunately, the 2016 appellate court ruling in NC NAACP v. McCrory reversed many components of the monster voter suppression H.B. 589 which attempted to drastically cut days for early voting, eliminated same day registration, eliminated preregistration of teens, eliminated out-of-precinct voting, and required that a restrictive type of state sponsored identification card be used in order to vote. The court’s ruling confirmed “discriminatory intent” and “surgical racism” was used to draft a bill that would suppress Black votes because they knew more than we do that Black votes matter.
Our votes elect State Attorney Generals, the state’s top police. Just think about that in terms of the Black need for police reform and police accountability. Then you will realize Black votes matter.
Our votes elect judges who sit at the desk of sentencing disparities and at the gateway to Black mass incarceration. Sister Michelle Alexander was mainly right when she explained how Mass incarceration is “the New Jim Crow.”
But Curtis Gatewood would like to take it a step further and say Black Mass Incarceration is the New Slavery; legislative poverty expansion has produced the triplets of John Crow, Jane Crow, and Jim Crow, II;
Police misconduct has produced the new lynching mob that has traded in the hoods and ropes for guns and badges. And the continuously abused and degraded colored section of voter suppression is evidence that Black votes matter.
Our votes elect federal representatives such as congressmen/women and senators who during the Obama administration, showed collectively they have the power to obstruct, sabotage, and grossly undermine the power of the president, especially when he is a Black man in a White House with the intellectual potential to out perform all of his White predecessors within the anti-Black institution of White supremacy. Interestingly now theTea Party is seldom mentioned because the anti-black, anti-Obama anti-justice mission is in good hands with Trump
So while without question it is imperative that we elect a sane, competent, socially conscious, decent and humane U.S. President, contrary to popular belief, the buck does not stop there. The “buck” of power and accountability is multi-layered.
Black lives are being destroyed by both gunpoint and pen-point (pen-point means during the signing of violent legislation).
Therefore as racism continues to escalate and as people of color continue to give birth to the colorful changing demographics of America, the Black vote will “matter” more and more.
Our votes elect the District Attorney, who is intimately involved in the prosecution of each criminal case in his/her jurisdiction. Imagine the impact this position’s power has on “Black Lives.” This is where the entrapment of Black lives in prison are being made through the unethical, unfair, immoral, and ungodly usage of “plea bargain” deals.
How is it a “bargain” to use power, fear, and intimidation to cause a young vulnerable man or woman to plead “guilty” to a crime he or she did not commit? That is not a bargain based on justice that is a bargain based upon Judas and the devil – because no matter how high the deck has been stacked against you – anytime you are being legally advised to plead guilty when you know you are in fact innocent – you have been sold out; you are being told at that very moment your Black life is not worth fighting for; you are being told – your Black life does not matter. This is why Black votes matter. And this why God Almighty matter.
The mountains of white supremacy and the mountains of institutional racism have been stacked against us for over 400 years.
Our enslaved ancestors, our share cropped and Jim Crowed mothers, fathers, and grand parents had every reason to give up, but chose to fight on just a little while longer and stand on the solid rock of faith and righteousness.
They ultimately realized they were the steadfast and immovable children children of Timbuktu, the world’s first and greatest university; we are children of the pyramid builders whose architectural and mathematical ingenuity remain unmatched and induplicatable thousands of years later.
We are the steadfast and immovable children of Moses who rose up, stood up and faced the most mighty and most oppressive pharaoh and largest slave owner in the world and turned that pharaoh’s kingdom upside down. We are the children of the steadfast and immovable Joshua and he is the one of the reasons we know despite the odds and regardless of how long or the extent to which we may find ourselves within the wilderness of institutionalized oppression and confusion, the promised land is within reach.
Webare the children of King David and King Solemon; we are the children of Queen Debra; the children of Queen Nefertiti; we are the steadfast and immovable children of King Mansa Musa, the most wealthy and most charitable King to ever live.
We are the steadfast and immovable children of King Shaka Zulu and the Zulu tribe; and we the descendants of Mandinka Warrior Kuta Kenta of the Mandinka Tribe; we are children of Rev. Nat Turner and the children of the steadfast and immovable Harriet Tubman.
We are the children of Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells women who stood and fought the monster of racism in its ugliest, most deadly, and most ferocious form. We are the children of the steadfast and immovable Fredrick Douglass and institution builder Booker T Washington.
We are the children of W.E.B. Dubois and Marcus Garvy leaders of the largest organizations in the nation. we are the children of church pioneers Richard Allen and college builders like Bishop James Walker Hood who said “No matter how dark the night I believe in the coming of morning;”
We are children on steadfast and immovable institution builders like Mary McCleod Bethune; we are the children of Madam C. J. Walker who despite being born within the eye of the storm of racism, poverty, and oppression, she innovatively and intelligently rose to become the nation’s first woman millionaire.
We are the children of the steadfast and immovable Rosa Parks who remained seated on bus so that the entire Black South could stand up and drive forward.
We are the steadfast children of Ella Baker, the Unbought and unbossed children of Shirley Chisholm; we are the proud and intelligent children of Angela Davis and the immovable tired of being sick and tired children of Fannie Lou Hammer.
Not only are we the children of steadfast and immovable Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who could like no other charismatically articulate our dreams of freedom; we are also the steadfast and immovable children of Malcolm X who could like no other brilliantly articulate our nightmare of oppression.
Not only are we the steadfast and immovable children of the Black National Baptist Convention, we also have steadfast and immovable children within the Nation of Islam.
We are the steadfast and immovable children of SCLC as well as SNCC; we are steadfast as immovable children of CORE as well as the children of the original Black Panther Party.
And yes we are the steadfast and immovable children of the NAACP; knowing that you have to fight if you want to be free; knowing we must give it all we’ve got; knowing we have to show them what it’s all about.
And lastly, and certainly not least, we are children of the steadfast and immovable Jesus C-h-r-i-s-t. Who through my faith tradition saved from personal and societal sins of this world; picked me up, turned me around and steadfastly placed my feet on immovable solid ground.
Through him and his connectivity with the history of fighters, builders, leaders, and preachers – he has inspired me to believe that we must be steadfast when we are right, because when we are right – it is not we who must move – but it is the mountains that must move.
We are right to stand up for those children and mothers who are being locked into a mountain of poverty and crime;
we are right to stand of little Black children who are having a mountain of jails built for them when they reach 3rd grade;
we are right to stand up steadfastly and stop the mountaineous killings due to the lack of health care;
the mountaineous killings due to an evil and unjust death penalty;
the mountaineous killings due to unclean and unsafe water, food, and air;
the mountaineous killings due to gang and drug entrapment;
the mountaineous killings due to reckless and criminal misconduct of a local police department;
we are right to steadfastly stand up and fight the mountain of domestic racial terrorism and its evil institutional mountain of white supremacy;
We can steadfastly and immovably bring down these mountains because a freedom fighter and King for the oppressed whose name is Jesus who has hair like wool, feet as burnish bronze, and eyes like fire said something at a time before he was wrongfully incarcerated, whipped all night; before he became the victim of prosecutorial misconduct and given an unjust death sentence – at some point he said to my spirit:
“With faith the grain of a mustard seed – Ye shall say unto these mountains “move hence to yonder place and they shall remove because nothing shall be impossible…”
We don’t have to move when we are right, just stand still and fight; remain steadfast, remain immovable because the mountains most move, the mountains must move; we have power and the mountains must move out of our way.
“Know Before You Go!” Make sure you are registered to vote; contact your local or state Board of Elections to confirm your voter registration status, precinct, poll location/hours, and early voting options; attend candidates forums; call and ask candidates where they stand on issues regarding – budgetary priorities; raising the minimum wage; addressing systemic racism, domestic terrorism, and white supremacy; reparations; police accountability; equal protection under the law; affordable housing; producing meaningful jobs; ensuring quality preschool, equitable public education and fair funding, affordable college and support for HBCUs; affordable/accessible health care for all; and other issues that would ensure the most vulnerable, most disadvantaged, the poor, and most commonly oppressed are provided the resources and attention needed. Take your notes to the polls and VOTE!
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