Since handed the privilege to vote, Blacks in the United States of America have never quite figured out what to do with that vote. So over the decades the trend has been to give it en masse to the politician or political party that appears to be nice to them.
Not surprising then that in the early period of acquiring that suffrage , their loyalty to the Republican Party was unconditional as it was the Party of Lincoln to whom they thought they owed a lot.
By and by that changed. And from the time the Republicans abandoned them during the period of the Reconstruction right up to the civil rights era, African Americans became the property of the Democratic Party and up to today not even Colin Powell could have changed that.
Over the decades, a lot of good Black men tried to get them to value their votes.
In 1924 civil rights activist and writer James Weldon Johnson accused his fellow Blacks of remaining in the “Fourth of July” stage of politics, an emotional exercise: The Republicans are sure of it and the Democrats don’t expect it.
“How can the Negro expect any worthwhile consideration for his vote as long as politicians are always reasonably sure as how it will be cast?”
By the 1960s in a speech entitled the Ballot or the Bullet, delivered in Cleveland Ohio, Malcolm X described the Black situation, politically: “…22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy.”
And he likened their vote to bullets. Advising them that they shouldn’t just put it out there, instead wait “until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”
His position of course is that Blacks had a challenge: “The black man in the black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring him in return.”
So here we here in 2016 and not a lot has changed, even after eight years of the presidency of Barak Obama, a Black man and one of the U.S’s most dynamic leaders in recent history having recued nation from the brink of economic and political meltdown.
In so doing he stemmed the bloodletting that was taking place as he took office is the midst of America’s most horrifying recession since the Great Depression with an economy that was losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands and sectors such as the automobile and banking on the verge of shutdown.
With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, which came in an almost $800 billion package and an healthcare plan that provided coverage for almost 32 million, President Obama made America great again.
But as he is packing his bags to vacate the White House the lot of Blacks in America has not improved significantly since the days of Malcolm X. In fact today, even as the country is in what can be considered a state of full employment, the unemployment rate among Blacks still hovers at just around 10 per cent. With a staggering number of Blacks living in poverty in a nation where the divide between Black and white is still as profound as ever. White households make close to 12 times that of a Black household and sadly close to 25% all Black children in the US live in poverty.
So things are certainly not going well for Blacks as President Obama leaves and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump come knocking at their doors for votes.
Although recent history tells that Clinton will be their overwhelming choice, you see since the mid 1960s 85% to 95% of Blacks have voted for the Democrats in the presidential elections, reaching an all time high in the last two cycles when the bulk of them voted for Obama with great fervor and excitement.
However, this year, much to the dismay of Clinton there’s no real fervor and excitement among Blacks in voting.
Sure, they are sickened by the prospect of someone like Trump having the gall to ask for their support, after decades of maintaining a systematic campaign of discrimination against them in areas of housing and employment as he amassed his so-called wealth.
Also in his quest for the presidency he managed to insult and degrade almost every minority group in the USA none more so than on women and Latinos on whom he kept a constant attack.
Although these two groups have felt the brunt of Trump’s nastiness, for the past year and a half or so, they’re still showing support for him in great numbers, something like 35% women and 24% Latinos.
Not African Americans, they’re done with that. In some jurisdictions like Pennsylvania and Ohio, Trump is polling zero percent among Blacks.
But on the flip side it seems difficult for them to show too much love to Clinton, who appear custom made for Black support given her attachment to President Obama and her almost lifelong commitment to the civil rights movement.
Blacks are on board with her but they’re still dithering, especially the young.
It appears as if they are coming to term with their numbers, their value in the voting system and their still too precarious place in society.
With about 43,000,000 Blacks comprise about 12.6% of the population, ranking third after whites and Latinos and Spanish speaking people but when it comes to voting, they are the second largest block. In certain states their support is crucial in getting a presidential candidate to get to the white house.
After seeing their conditions remain the same following eight years of Obama and with the justice system, housing and employment still rigged against them, many Blacks are justifiably suspicious of it all.
Clinton says she is the man…I mean, the woman to change it all and she has President Obama, his wife Michelle and even superstar rapper Jay Z out telling Blacks the same thing.
Things is, this time around Blacks have no choice as suggested in a recent Hill article by respected academic, writer and commendation and Julianne Malveax:
(Clinton) has engaged in productive conversations with the Black Lives Matter movement. She has acknowledged the legitimacy of “reparations”, a concept most mainstream Democrats would have eschewed two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was President. She seems more open to legislative solutions for racial wealth and income inequality than others have been. There is something to be said for being enthusiastic about a candidate that really “gets race.