Dear Black America: Don't Be Fooled, You Won't Vote Away Systemic Racism

Duane Townsend

Hampton Think - June 21, 2020

Voting is not the way to solve anything for black people, oppressed people. First, reform does not work in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Every issue we hear talked about on the news, "this [issue] disproportionately affects people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, etc." This statement shouldn't be that mind-boggling. This system isn't made to benefit us in the first place, so why would a change in that system work in the first place. When a car breaks down, you put in new parts. If you continue to put new parts in a car, it will eventually break down. That is all these reformist polices are doing. If you're not abolishing the system, then you're just allowing the car to keep on going with new parts that will enable the car to run on fumes until it breaks down. Calls to abolish and defund the police are already being coopted into reformist policies to appease the ruling class. It shouldn't be that radical to call for an abolishment of a system that kills over 1,000 people a year despite being "reformed."

Second, voting is to subdue the masses to choosing between two evils and allowing them to decide what's acceptable and what's not acceptable in the realm of discussion. As Noam Chomsky eloquently put it, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that they have free thought, but the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." As a people, we have been taught and sold that voting is the only way to make a change in society. From talking to my parents, family members, and community members doing the peak of the 2020 Democratic primary, and now they are sold on voting as our only means of creating change. Saying we have to make the change within the system. Their stance on voting has been fed to them for so long that they will fight you to the grave on this, but it is so ahistorical that we need to disprove it today. Our ancestors didn't have the right to vote, and they achieved the abolition of slavery, end of segregation, right to citizenship, right to work, right to own property, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the removal of Jim Crow Legislation, the right to vote.

When you look at any change that has happened within the The US, the change has come from outside the system, not within. As James Connolly Said, "Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class." When we vote, we are voting for whoever the ruling class has told us to vote for. Whether through endless spending with SuperPAC's or "black faces in high places," telling us who to vote for, we have no say in Democracy. As Malcolm X said, "Democracy is Hypocrisy." Voting is the way that the empire can keep us under control and keep themselves in power. The Black Panther Party couldn't vote, yet they had a Free Food, Free Housing, Free Medical Care, Free Busing, Free Clothes, and 50 other programs that we hear white liberals advocate for today. They were doing that within their community, and that's why Herbert Hoover fought to get rid of them. The BPP's initial government surveillance started because of their Free Breakfast Program. The settlers have taught us that's their way of governance is the best way, and we have fallen for that. We believe that we, the masses, and oppressed people can vote and change the system that was set up with the thought that either we weren't citizens, we weren't humans, or that we were too dumb, so there should be a safeguard.

The ruling class had a chance to maybe postpone a revolution in our lifetime with the compromise candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Sanders, running on a political revolution, had a tremendous amount of support from young people in general, but especially young black people. With his calls for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and other social democratic policies, they had a chance to satisfy the short term wants of most Americans. They had an opportunity to assuage the masses for a while, as they did with FDR's candidacy. The ruling class, though, was so caught up with their money and profits that they failed to see that Bernie Sanders was offering them. They were so scared that he would tax them that they colluded against him as they did in 2016 to ensure that their establishment candidate won. Now we are stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils again. We have one person who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault, an architect of mass incarceration (who refuses to apologize for it), and full of blunders. On the other hand, we have Donald Trump. I remember when people were saying that they will vote for Joe Biden over Trump because at least we can push him left. Now, this isn't an essay on whether you should vote or not, but I will say that we have had weeks of protest worldwide, and Joe Biden has not even inched to the left. He doesn't support abolishing or defunding the police department. Even Bernie Sanders said that he doesn't support defunding the police and says that they need more funding. This was the candidate who claimed that he was for the people, and he doesn't even support our demands. The Democratic Party has sold out black people for so long that it shouldn't be controversial not to support them, but we continuously have for decades. 

The façade that we can vote our problems away is one that we cannot fall victim to today. We have tried that time and time again, and what happens? The politicians run on something, go in there and don't do anything for our community. Black and white politicians alike have sold us out time and time again. To get real change, we must stay in the streets. As you see in Minneapolis, with protesting, burning, rioting, and looting, the change will come. If you support non-violent or violent protest is your prerogative. If you support the liberation of the black community and think that we must vote to get Trump out of office, that is your choice. But one thing is for sure. We cannot vote ourselves out of this situation because if we think that is the way to solve our problems, we will end up in the same place we started.

Christian Ginesis a published student writer, poet, and activist whose writings discuss race within the black community and its effect on black youth.

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