Summer is officially over and there are simply too many people debating whether or not it is ok to wear white after Labor Day, i.e., shoes, or even straw hats!
To quote the opening words of Spike Lee’s movie, Do the Right Thing:“Wake Up (America!)” We on the verge of electing the highest representative of the USA; one who proudly exposes the underbelly of this country, and too many people are still cluck-clucking about Donald Trump’s candidacy. It was foolhardy to dismiss his viability as a candidate. And, it will be detrimental to black folk if we don’t exercise every option to prevent his election.
It’s close people.
Let me go on the record by saying that I have never been a fan of Hillary Clinton. Quite frankly, I will miss the tone and tenor set by Barack Obama; his grace under pressure; his eloquence; his style, and yes, his swagger; his family’s refreshing take on American values, et al. Too bad he can’t be cloned!
But, we have to make a choice.
I just learned that in the most recent election in South Florida, the turnout was at a dismal low of only 23 percent. There are no words to explain this atrocity; that’s a violation of all things about being an American.
Wake up America! There are too many high profile folk, celebrities, preachers, paid pundits, among others, who are delivering conflicting mes- sages about the value and the black vote. Why do you mind them? You can think for yourself, and you must vote, one way or the other, if you are a practicing American.
How do you practice being an American? By voting. It is the one time in this Republic that we can be conscientiously fully free.
Remember, our voting rights were won over much spilled blood, and to scoff at the value of your vote is near sacrilegious.
I know that many of you reading this column have ancestry from Africa; albeit via the Caribbean.
I understand that many voters of color have still not yet transferred all their allegiance to the USA; still holding on to that hyphenated identity which keeps them tethered to a country, or some group of islands of their origin, and old ideas about how one party or another has not served us well.
I understand that fealty to another place first-hand. I often heard my mother’s older sisters say that we were not American, but British, because of their family’s origin in the Bahamas.
On the other hand, I quickly learned that I was indeed an American, because of my father’s family. Documented from 1795, we know the stories about how they built their area of South Carolina; how they used modern agricultural techniques to coax out prize winning crops; how they helped develop several institutions of higher education (my great grandfather was induced into the Claflin College Hall of Fame), etc.
These were Americans. Not hyphenated Americans. But Black Americans. The Bahamian relatives eventually came around and dropped the hyphen.
I also know that primary culture and language should be held on to- forever. It’s called legacy. Fine. I still mourn the loss of what I imagine was mine, 400 years ago in some West African village.
Blacks are American. I have said it before, and I’ll repeat it: in my opinion, black folk are the quintessential American- initially, having been bought here to toil in the labor prisons called plantations; giving our blood on every battlefield of war for the preservation of this nation; donating our bodies to science (most times unwittingly); often sacrificing our sons’ and daughters’ physical and mental well-being in the pursuit of the ideals expressed in The Constitution (which never intended to include us); and, simply refusing to die off.
And I know the history of the two party system: of being in the party of Lincoln, the great liberator; or of how one Democratic leader after another betrayed our agendas, etc. So we can sit out the national anthem and raise our fists at its tune, but we cannot not vote.
If it helps, think of voting as a revolutionary act; more powerful than any public street chant, or for that matter, any clandestine bullet shot at authority figures. Not voting is an act of cowardice and apathy. I challenge every reader to reflect back on the rights and freedoms that are in effect in your home country. For native-born black Americans, I suggest that you look up the living conditions and the body politic of any area on the African continent and see if there is an equal trade off to the living conditions and opportunities here.
Is it better elsewhere? Great! Let’s work to those conditions adopted in the USA.
Better here? Also good, but we cannot be- come complacent. We have to work to do, regardless. America is still an ongoing experiment and we are all part of the formula. Wake up America: Vote, black folk, vote.
Contact the author at Toniwg1@gmail.com