Brother Kweli is on to something. There is a difference between racial understanding and political ideology. Being liberal doesn’t automatically mean you’re more enlightened on social issues. Don’t just automatically assume the Democrat in the race understands and/or cares about your issues as much as you do. He or she might not. It’s easy, due to the social issues liberals tend to champion, for us to assume a vote for a Democrat automatically means a vote for blacks/minorities.
I won’t even mention Republicans because (if their current candidates for President of the United States are any indication) they pretend racism isn’t an issue or avoid it altogether in their rhetoric. It’s embarrassing. I remember a while back when the GOP’s Twitter account tweeted about how Rosa Parks “ended racism” with her activism.
But whatever. Them being tone-deaf on public social issues unrelated to what their pastor preaches is nothing new. I accept that. But Democrats can’t rest on their laurels. Being a liberal doesn’t automatically make you well-versed in racial and socioeconomic matters. Being a white liberal doesn’t automatically mean you understand the black experience. They often have no idea what’s going on. But I’ll be the last person to completely fault them. Our history has created that social and cultural divide to where many will be totally oblivious.
We have a lot of work to do as a people. Often times we don’t make our voice heard loudly enough to where they can hear it rising from their electorate. We have some responsibility. But they do too. That’s a big deal. As an elected official, it’s my job to understand and represent the best interests of EVERYONE I serve. It’s also my job to make sure they’re all being heard equally and without prejudice. That’s my duty as their leader and their voice.
I may have some latino heritage, but I can never claim to fully understand my Cuban or Brasilian brethren without speaking with them. That would be presumptuous. But it’s my job to sit with leaders and members of these communities to truly obtain a feel for what issues affect them the most right now. I mean REALLY sit with these communities to gain a feel for their concerns. Not just generic tokens of each group to save face.
This has been an issue for two years and counting. Brothers and sisters have been dying at the hands of the authorities for a while now. Maybe that’s not what’s expected of me, but I’m the type that listens more to the people more than my colleagues up north. I serve THEM. Want to attempt to hijack my campaign stop with a speech? By all means, have the floor. Be heard, let me speak too, and let’s work together.
We can do this. This is what I look forward to doing someday. Everyone’s life matters in this country. Black lives matter. We need a reminder now. The issue we have today is concerning the socioeconomic conditions of African Americans in this country. Everyone else has raced by. Why? What are some of the constructs keeping this in place in the here and now? Why are they continued to persist? Do we truly have equality?
Does the law treat us equally? Do the authorities? Courtrooms? Job market? Are we still discriminated against? Yes? No? Why? Let’s have a substantive discussion about these matters. Let’s figure out ways to fix it without compromising good sense in the process. Who are the people really talking about these matters? Bring them all into a room without prejudice and let’s hash out some real ideas. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I have to vote for someone that isn’t tone-deaf on the issues that matter the most to me as a citizen.
Could this be the first year I don’t vote either Democrat or Republican? It would take a whole lot, but the door certainly isn’t closed.
Time will tell.