America 2016: It’s Time to Fight, Not Run

The 2016 presidential election is nearly upon us and the results of this upcoming election will determine the overall future of this country. America, in 2016, is at a major crossroads and there is so much at stake in this election that it can’t possibly be ignored.jboney-speaks-fight-not-run

America 2016 has shined the light on the tremendous disconnect between Blacks and Whites in this country, and has revealed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 merely put a temporary Band-Aid on the true underlying racial tension, police brutality problems and discriminatory judicial practices that have existed in this country for centuries and have been highlighted to a greater extent since the election of the nation’s first African America president in 2008 – President Barack Obama. Things have truly gotten significantly worse.

It always bothers me when people, especially African Americans, use excuses about why they don’t vote in elections. You know the excuses that I’m talking about don’t you?

“I’m just one vote.”

“My vote won’t matter.”

“Them White folks gone do what they gonna do anyway.”

These are some of the lame excuses that I’m sure you’ve heard before, along with many others.

The “dog ate my homework” approach of disengaging yourself from the political process is a foolish approach to take and a costly one. Black people must take voting and politics seriously if we are going to see collective changes in our neighborhoods, in our schools and in our daily lives. People who have adopted this mode of thinking are misinformed and need to be educated on the importance of voting in all elections, especially local elections.

“All politics is local” is a popular political saying, most often associated with House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., which emphasizes my point about the importance of voting. When you know the importance of voting and all that people went through to obtain the right to vote, you would be rebuking people as well. All politics is local and voting matters.

There is nothing “cool” or “trendy” about refusing to vote. What’s “cool” about failing to exercise one of the most critical constitutional rights given to all Americans and doing so in lieu of all our ancestors went through for us to obtain that right? Let me tell you…nothing at all.

Taxation without representation is a horrible position to be in. All key decisions and laws that impact our daily lives are made by people at the local, county and state levels of government; not just by the President of the United States, whoever they are. How can any community thrive without having solid representation in place to make important decisions that impact our quality of life, our children’s education, our taxes, our healthcare options; and other community-based services we rely upon each and every day? If Black people don’t have quality representation, then the potential of us having neighborhoods that are thriving and progressive is threatened, which then weakens us collectively. This brings me, once again, to the true importance of highlighting the need for Black people not to downplay the significance of this presidential election in November, as well as focusing on the other down ballot races that will impact our daily lives for months and years to come. I am concerned about some of the confusing rhetoric being shared by some high-profiled African Americans, who are using their platforms to deliver a seemingly oxymoronic message to their followers as it relates to voting in the upcoming presidential election.

Celebrity entertainer Nick Cannon came out several months ago and stated that he would not be personally voting in the 2016 presidential election, but wasn’t asking others to follow his example. Cannon said, “I encourage everyone to vote. It’s a lot of people who died and fought for the right for us to vote, but me personally I don’t like the pageantry. It’s a popularity contest. I will definitely be voting in my local election. I feel like local government is the most important government specifically to our community. I feel that local government is specific to our community. A lot of people get up there and argue and debate about Hillary or Donald Trump and then you ask them who their city councilman is, and they say ‘I don’t know’. I think we got to start in the community.” On the surface this sounds like a positive message, but at the end of the day, the same approach Cannon has towards local elections should be adopted when it comes to the presidency.

Another celebrity entertainer, Bow Wow, tweeted out that he wouldn’t be voting for either presidential candidate because world leaders are controlled “by an upper power that no one knows about.” He didn’t share with us who those upper powers were though, which is troubling because, unlike Cannon, he didn’t even indicate whether he was even voting in local elections.

I did, somewhat agree, with a few of the things that celebrity music mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs had to say about the 2016 election when he appeared on MSNBC with Al Sharpton. Although I don’t agree with Combs’ assertion that President Obama has ‘shortchanged’ Black voters, I do agree with his position that Black people should not automatically vote for Hillary Clinton and that the Black vote is going to decide who is the next president of the United States will be.

It is not time to run away from voting or stay at home. That isn’t the right move Black people.

Have you ever asked yourself why so many folks put so much money into these campaigns and why folks would seek to suppress the vote and deceive voters? Have you ever asked yourself why people would do anything to steal an election by seeking to disenfranchise voters?

If you haven’t, then you are one of the many hamsters on the hamster wheel. It is extremely important that we exercise our right to vote. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so whoever is truly engaged politically, they usually get the most attention. All elections, especially local elections, are too important to overlook and ignore, but we must not ignore this upcoming president election in November.

Some would say that my thought process concerning people and their decision not to vote is a judgmental and condescending one, but I disagree. I respectfully submit to you that I couldn’t be more serious, and more committed to this line of communication than ever before. Here in America 2016, it’s time for us to dig in, fight and not run away from a right to vote that was, and is still is being fought for daily by those who understand the struggle to make a difference through politics and public policy. Will I see you at the polls in November? I truly hope so.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com