The real power is in the vote

William T. Robinson, Jr.

The country is going through a pending transformation with all the national protests against social inequality and blatant disrespect for Black lives demonstrated by the killing of many Blacks by law enforcement officers. Make no mistake, there will be some changes but the changes will not come from multitudes of people marching down streets and making speeches appealing to our emotions.

The forces to come are waiting for the movement to wane and will make a few concessions here and there to appease some groups. But unless certain key individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions are targeted individually and changes made in their policies and practices—the momentum of the movement will not be as effective and productive as it should. The young citizens of this country are venting and manifesting their outrage by congregating in large groups and making local, state, national and global headlines. But ask yourself if highlighting the problem is enough?

There is nothing like bringing attention to the injustices and ills of our society and eliciting the support of those viewing these atrocities. There will be some forced changes, but these young demonstrators will be doing the movement and this country a grave disservice if they don’t exercise their greatest weapon: their voting power. The answers to bringing about the desired outcome are in the vote. Yes, march and protest if you must. But in the end, if you don’t vote, don’t complain about the lack of progress you so emphatically seek. It is very simple. Each young demonstrator of voting age must become registered to vote and exercise that vote to effect change.

The policies, laws, and practices we are marching against were voted on by lawmakers who need to be removed—or we will continue to get more of the same. All you have to do is examine the voting records of many of your lawmakers, and everything will fall in place. If allowed to stay in office many of these politicians will continue to vote on laws and policies that blatantly disenfranchise and discriminate against certain groups and communities. Lawmakers enact laws and policies that allow institutions, corporations and the wealthy to exploit, discriminate, and devalue specific groups and communities.

All too often, elected official are in bed with big businesses and private entities. They are not advocating for the very communities that elected them. Black Lives Matters is not about individual racism as much as it is about established systematic and institutionalized racism that allows social injustice and inequality to run rampant. Voters must be cognizant of mayors, councilmen, governors, police chiefs, and state legislators to make sure they are transparent. They must be held accountable. The states elect senators and congressmen who can be extremely helpful in eradicating some of these social injustices affecting African Americans and people of color.

Lawmakers enact laws that we all have to abide by, and some of these laws have proven to be disproportionately harmful to minorities and their communities. If we are serious about turning things around, we must clean house and get rid of some of these politicians who have a history of supporting racist and discriminatory legislation. We must make demands as well as have a definitive plan if we want to make sure our desired candidates are sworn in.

The truth is that in many cases we have old White male legislators who have made a political career enacting and supporting legislation detrimental to African Americans and other people of color. We all know who they are. Again, I repeat we know who they are. If the sea of White protestors are serious about making Black lives matter, they will vote to change the political trajectory in their respective communities.

I’ve got to believe that there are as many good White people who are tired of these racist and discriminating lawmakers in their cities and states. When all is said and done, the results in voting should reflect the protestors’ veracity in making all lives count. The future is in the young generation. They are not acting on the rhetoric of some of their racist parents and grandparents, but rather on what they are seeing and experiencing themselves.

We are taught a lie cannot remain a lie forever, and the truth will eventually prevail, especially the truth that we are all equal and deserving of dignity and respect. I’m betting the younger generation is going to make that belief a reality, but I beg that they utilize their power of the vote to make it happen. Protest to vent and get the message out, but vote to change things.