Black people have come a long way since the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the last federal election, for the first time in our country’s history, the black vote surpassed its white counterpart. Many black people thought monumental change in their lives was inevitable by electing a representative that understood the “black struggle”. Barack Obama, brought hope to the black community and America by and large. Today, some of that hope has faded into the past. The change black people expected by electing Obama is still unfulfilled and there is a reason for that.
If the African-American community wants change, it is not going to come from the federal level, but rather, through state and local elections. Unfortunately, it is statistically proven that the racial disparity between black and white voter turnout in these elections do not favor black Americans. As noted by writer Charles D. Ellison of The Root,
With 90 percent of the 42,000 combined state, local and federal elected officials being white-it is not as if most politicians are naturally inclined to represent black interests, even when they represent areas with large pockets of black constituents. So when black voters choose to tap out, it’s an even bigger, conveniently packaged excuse to continue doing nothing.
This is the harsh reality that black voters have the power to change. The state and local officials are the one’s who pass the legislation that have such an impact on all the lives within urban communities. Yet, the disparity between black voter turnout in federal and state elections indicate that African-Americans do not understand this fact. So, it is time to mobilize, especially in the current socio-political climate we now find ourselves in. If black people want change in their communities, they must elect the officials that will make this happen. Part of that will come from an increase in black representatives running for office in local politics and when they do so, they use that opportunity to educate the black electorate on the value of their vote in those elections. Another part of it will come from amending the Voting Rights Act to protect the black vote by creating more flexible voting times, ridding it from qualifications many blacks can’t meet, and gerrymandering districts in a manner that favor the black candidate. Until these things happen, unfortunately, I do not believe change will come. So to all my black people out there ROCK THE LOCAL VOTE next time around!