7+1 Actions Black Women Need To Take in 2016

The New Black Chick Nile Harris

The New Black Chick Nile HarrisLast week I published a post, 7 Actions Black Women Need To Take In 2016. Well, I forgot one…vote! The New Black Chick doesn’t focus too much on politics as a rule of thumb, however, voting is serious business. If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you have seen me posts pics from time to time saying I voted. You have also seen me live Tweeting various debates. This is the first Presidential election since the creation of the New Black Chick and we will be chiming in all year encouraging people, especially, black women to vote.

Our Vote Does Matter

Despite P. Diddy’s remarks that voting is a scam, we should vote regardless. The reason some people suggest that voting doesn’t matter is because we have two voting bodies when it comes to the Presidential election. One is the popular vote, this is the vote of the citizens. The other is the electoral college, the vote of “qualified” citizens. These parallel systems were created by the founding fathers in the Constitution. This was a compromise between Congress’ desire to elect a President and the choice of the people. These electors are typically chosen by the party and each state has their own rules regarding who can hold this position. On election day, the people and the electors will cast their vote for President. The majority of the time the popular vote and the electoral college vote will have the same results. However, this doesn’t always happen. There have been four times in the history of the country where the results weren’t the same, 1824, 1876, 1888 and most notably 2000 when Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the electoral college. The controversy was so heated it divided the country and the Supreme Court had to step in. There were reports of defective election ballots which may have swayed the election in Bush’s favor. While it’s easy to look at this situation and feel as though our votes didn’t matter, that’s not the case. Al Gore decided to concede the election rather than put the people through a battle for office. He had the votes on his side to pursue being the President elect.

We don’t just vote for the President, we also vote for the people who work with the President in Congress and the Senate. Those elections are held by popular vote. These elections are held every two years. When it occurs between Presidential elections it’s referred to as mid-term elections. In the last mid-term election the Republicans took control. Democrats didn’t show up to the polls. By not voting for people who will work with the President candidates who ran on a platform against the President were elected. And we continue to have a clash within our government. Voting matters not just during a Presidential election but the midterm election as well.

Voter Rights Are Being Diminished

Here’s a question – if voting doesn’t matter, why throughout US history has the African American community had their voting rights restricted? Why the surge in voter ID requirements since Barack Obama’s initial candidacy? At first we couldn’t vote at all. Then when we received the right to vote we were barred from being able to do so. When blacks would show up to register to vote they were asked impossible questions or just simply turned away. Look at the last few elections where election officials have to watch the state of Florida like a hawk because of alleged voter suppression of blacks, especially during the elections of 2008 and 2012 with President Barack Obama in the lead. In June, 2013 the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voters Rights Act of 1965 that provided protection for minorities to register and vote. The Supreme Court’s rationale was that America has changed and minorities can freely register and vote. Today, we are seeing the rise of voter ID requirements all over the country. Sure, it’s reasonable to verify the identity of the person showing up to vote. Are those restrictions something that everyone can easily meet? Some of these laws are going past that. For example, the state of Alabama has imposed stricter ID laws. Some of these laws would make it more difficult for disenfranchised populations to obtain an ID. Then they closed down more than 90% of DMV offices where people can obtain IDs. Next, they are proposing restricting voting locations to four places. Question – in what areas do you think those polling places will b located? Poor or rural areas? Just a question.

It’s important for citizens to vote so that voting suppression isn’t allowed to continue. Power concedes nothing without demand and how we demand is with our vote.

Women’s Rights And Resources Are Being Eliminated

The “war on women” may be allowed to continue without voting. Planned Parenthood is under attack primarily because some of their locations perform abortions. However, they provide many other healthcare resources to under-served and poor women all over the country. Planned Parenthood uses private funds for the abortions. This is outlined in their financials. Do they sell aborted fetuses for scientific research? They conceded they do so with permission, those videos were edited and they would cease doing it. I admit, the thought of selling fetuses for scientific research is unsettling. Women are still paid less than men for the same work, yet we outpace them in education.

Black women need to vote for the same reasons impacting all women and some that are impacting us specifically. Black women are dying in police custody far too frequently for arrests that have nothing to do with an actual crime. Black women are more impacted by the wage gap than white women. Despite comparable education and skills black women are less likely to ascend up the corporate ladder of success.

People Died So We Could Vote

The first Presidential election I ever voted in was 1992. I was away at college. My Dad called me to remind me to vote. I said the stupidest thing…”my vote doesn’t matter”. I was 18, cut me some slack. His response was “people died so you could vote”. He said some other things, but that was enough. Regardless of if you think your vote doesn’t matter, many of those who came before us made the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives so we can vote. We have an opportunity that so many of still living relatives were denied. Selma isn’t just a movie, it’s our history. Learn the issues, how they impact you and be an informed voter. Vote for the best candidate you feel represents your interests. Listen to both sides, Republican and Democrats to understand the big picture. Also, vote for the best congress and senate representatives you will feel will work best with the President.

The good news is black women have led the voter turnout in the last two elections. There is every indication this will be the case in 2016. Encourage those around you to vote, especially the black men in your lives. Share this post within your communities and comment below, we love to hear from you. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and catch our live Tweeting and Periscope events. And whatever you do this year – vote!

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Nile Harris
Nile Harris, the Chief Chick, is a word weaver and dream believer with 20 years of experience in healthcare, finance, and education. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own.
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