We need to put a stop to the narrative that Black folks don’t vote—like gerrymandering doesn’t exist; like Black people haven’t had our eligibility and votes canceled, purged, and otherwise thrown out, left right and center; like the burden of salvation for Black folks and the rest of this country rests on the shoulders of Black folks and the youth—like voting is going to make active, modern-day oppression up and disappear.
Black women have been fighting to make this country the best it can be, since we were forced here centuries ago. That includes voting. That includes grassroots organizing. That includes fighting for change on every possible front.
Let’s take a closer look:
In 2016, about 60 percent of Black Americans showed up to vote. (And that’s LOW for us!) Roughly 65 percent of white Americans turned up to vote, and 47 percent of Latinx Americans.
In this country, there are approximately 140,000,000 white American, 40,000,000 Black Americans, and 30,000,000 Latinx Americans. Roughly six percent of the US population is Asian, and indigenous Americans only exist in tiny pockets, as they have pretty much been colonized out of existence (meaning the indigenous vote has been all but complexly wiped out).
90 percent of Black people voted against Trump and his minions. (This includes 96 percent of Black women.) 55 percent of white people voted for Trump and his team of demons, and 30 percent of Latinx folks did, too.
We vote—but we are outnumbered by people who have consistently been on the wrong side of history; people who vote to support hate, bigotry, and oppression.
So, then, why are Black people being blamed for the state of this nation, like we didn’t show up in droves to try to prevent this very thing from happening? Like we are not always the first ones on the front lines voting in the right direction? Like we have not been boycotting, protesting, and organizing for centuries?
From planning slave rebellions, to the civil rights movement, to the Women’s March, to the Me Too Movement, and everything in between, we continuously work for everyone else’s well-being, while being consistently silenced, drowned out, ignored, or KILLED for doing so. (The son of a Ferguson protester was lynched just LAST WEEK.)
We show up. We always do. Even as we risk our lives to do so. Even as white America continues to do everything in its power to silence and suppress Black voices and votes.
All over the country, Black districts are consistently redistricted and gerrymandered, to render large blocks of Black voices and votes useless. Black votes are being canceled, purged, and suppressed, left, right, and center, by both political parties. To break it down: rather than a blue candidate having the chance to win by a landslide due to a particular county having a substantial Black population, the borders of each of those districts are redrawn and broken up into several tiny ones. Alternatively, lines are redrawn so Black voters are drowned out by large white populations.
Wealthy white districts are rarely gerrymandered. Black districts often are.
Furthermore, Black votes, including in liberal bastions like New York, are often purged or suppressed. The DNC recently came under fire for purging almost 100,000 votes in some of the Blackest neighborhoods in New York City, as those votes overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton’s then rival, Bernie Sanders. Voter registration purging is a key issue in the battle between Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, where Kemp has been enacting bogus legislation to quietly purge over 340,000 voter registrations, of which the overwhelming majority are—you guessed it—Black.
And, we can’t forget the voter suppression that happens visa vie the prison industrial complex. Though white and Black people commit crimes at nearly identical rates, and though the overwhelming majority of these “crimes” are nonviolent and inconsequential, Black folks are followed, targeted, and imprisoned at rates nearly four times higher than white folks. And nearly all prisoners lose their right to vote.
Despite the fact that 90 percent of us voted against him, we still end up with a president who’s called neo-Nazis “fine people.” We still end up with an adult white woman not being prosecuted for calling the police on a 9-year-old Black boy she wrongfully accused of sexual assault. We still have politicians sic cops (fully outfitted in grade military gear) on us when we gather to demand our children not be murdered by police. We still end up with billionaires like Bloomberg buying elections and supporting programs like stop and frisk. We still end up with schools encouraging the incarceration of Black children. We still end up with police chiefs who are active members of white terrorist supremacist organizations. We still end up with Brian Kemp.
Don’t tell me that Black voter turnout is the key to our salvation. It’s not—but we vote anyway.
White people, the state of this nation is 100 percent your fault and the fault of all your racist ass aunts and uncles, parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, teachers, and colleagues who you failed to put in check. Liberal white or conservative white, the state of this nation is YOUR fault.
So, please, go out and vote, but do not perpetuate the myth that Black people and the Black vote are to blame for this country’s problems. We aren’t. And give credit to Black women, because credit is long overdue. WE OUT HERE, and we always have been.
Paige Kay is an entrepreneur, actor, and model based in New York City. You can find her on Instagram at @paigetheconqueror.