As we gear up for the 2020 election and the new decade, a trend that I would love to see die is shaming Black people for existing. Black people can’t enjoy a chicken sandwich, twerking, hair, or breathing without someone coming out of the woodwork to tell us that we’re a detriment to the race or that we need to work on an LLC. Can’t we just enjoy things?
We haven’t even reached 2020, and I’ve already seen Mayor Pete Buttigieg call Black people homophobic for not supporting for him. That assumption is racist first of all. Secondly, the lack of Black support could be due to Buttigieg siding with police officers in response to shootings of Black people as well as his neglect of South Bend’s Black population. Maybe if he focused more on examining his relationship with white supremacy instead of projecting his personal failures onto Black people, he’d stand a chance in this election.
Speaking of elections, can we stop blaming the moral failings of the white majority on the Black vote? The magical Black vote won’t save anyone; it’s simply a scapegoat.
Black people make up roughly 13 percent of the US population. Despite voter suppression, we vote in the same numbers as white people. Considering that white people make up around 76 percent of the population, if white people make up their mind about who they want for president, there’s nothing a Black vote can do to stop it. Point, blank, period.
This idea that Black people are apathetic about the electoral process or that we’re too lazy to get out to vote is all part of white supremacy (the idea that whiteness is inherently right, good, and moral while everything other is not). When we shame Black people for not voting, we are not only playing into white supremacy but are actively dismissing the ways in which white supremacy actively stops Black people from voting.
After Reconstruction and the 15th amendment which allowed Black men to vote, hundreds of Black men were elected to government positions. The KKK formed to murder any Black men attempting to vote.
In places like Mississippi, politicians gathered in 1890 to adopt a new constitution when they saw that Black voters outnumbered white ones. James K. Vardaman, one of the framers of this new constitution was quoted as saying, “ Mississippi’s constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the nigger from politics.”
Even today, practices such as voter ID laws and felon disenfranchisement serve to weaken the Black vote. Weakening the Black vote isn’t so much about the power of a Black vote as much as Black people asserting our humanity. Disenfranchisement is a tool used to dehumanize.
Despite these things, we still hear condescension within the community about not voting without acknowledging the ways in which the state actively suppresses our votes. Instead of shaming Black people for being abused by white supremacy, maybe we should work together to ensure all of us have a vote and a voice in this country.
So in this next year, I would love to see less shaming of Black people. Whoever the next president is has nothing to do with whether we exercised our right to vote or not. It is not our job, and we are simply unable to save this country. Whatever thing a majority of Black people like next, let them. We deserve to find happiness in the little moments of our existence. We deserve joy and a good chicken sandwich.