By Summer Sims, Staff Writer
Approximately three weeks away, the North Carolina 2020 election primary, and what will be different this election season? Some will respond, “Too many candidates are vying for president in the Democratic Party primary”. Others may say, “I haven’t selected a candidate at this point”. And what might be the response from African-American voters in North Carolina?
Historical patterns demonstrated by significant numbers of African-American voters highlight reliance on “sample ballots” distributed to voters during major election years, an effort to guide voters to select candidates chosen by party leaders. Will the first election in this new decade promise a continued pattern of robotic election practices?
Where does the funding to galvanize the Black vote originate? Who receives the money and how is it distributed? What promises are offered to those who assist in delivering the Black vote? How does the diverse population of Black voters benefit from the choices made? These are questions rarely asked. Perhaps we might look to McDougal Terrace and the parents experiencing extended stays in motels, or residents in growing cities and urban areas benefiting from growing trends in gentrification while indigenous and marginalized residents are pushed out and unable to find affordable housing and transportation. Where are all of the leaders who encouraged voters to cast ballots for candidates aligned with the views of those who are charged with delivering the Black vote or those receiving pay to galvanize Black voter turnout?
Functional illiteracy, lack of affordable housing, low-wage jobs, minimally skilled employees, race and gender wage gaps, hunger, homelessness… continue to plague communities; and promises continue to be made. Children and elderly populations, among the most vulnerable and voiceless, appear to await actions taken by the few. What outcomes are realized for the children, elderly, poor and rural residents of North Carolina? Does anyone care about the outcomes affecting the lives of the most voiceless? Just get to the polling site to cast your ballot for the individuals on the “sample ballot”. No questions asked, they have your interest as a priority. Do they really value your interest, or is their interest really personal? It may be time to shift the paradigm as we enter a new decade.
Black communities are not monolithic, we do not march to the beat of one drummer. However, years and years of accepting sample ballots and following the lead from a few people will possibly result in similar outcomes. Take time to research the candidates you select. Do you ever see any candidates in your community assisting in efforts to address problems? Do you ever see them in your community at times when no election is pending? Are those who currently hold office and seeking re-election really helping to address the needs of your community?
It might be time to become an informed voter, a voter seeking responses to the barriers affecting the quality of your life.