By Jamada Garner
Let me present to you two scenes. The first scene takes place in Louisville, Kentucky. It is 12:40 a.m. and Kenneth Walker wakes up to the shrill sound of the door being kicked in. Dazed, confused, and terrified of the possibility that his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend has just invaded their apartment, he goes and grabs his licensed gun to defend himself and his girlfriend. Seeing the invaders, he points and shoots, hoping to protect the person he cares about. He is met with a barrage of bullets that obliterate everything in their path. He’s hit six times but does not die. He’s conscious and alive, but perhaps this is worse. He has to sit there, immobile and in pain, watching in abject horror as his girlfriend bleeds to death. This hell that I’ve described is the documentation of Breonna Taylor’s murder at the hands of those meant to protect her.
Six months later in Georgia, Black economic power has taken a great leap forward. Nineteen families, led by real estate agent Ashley Scott, have purchased ninety-seven acres of land for 1.7 million dollars in East Macon, rural Georgia. Their combined goal is to secure Black autonomy, and a safe space that can become the new town of Freedom, Georgia. This is in response to the continual slaughter of our people by way of either extralegal killings, like Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, or legal killings, as in the case of Breonna Taylor and countless others. Scott and her friends are deeply fearful that their sons and husbands could become another face on the news. They understand the importance of owning property, owning a home, and building an economic legacy.
I have presented you all with a hell and a haven. Neither of these situations could have been prevented or pushed, and yet we continue to hear folks prattle on about voting as if it's their lord and savior; but what has voting really done for us? There is an ongoing debate amongst the Black community over voting. You have the Diddys of the world that believe in reserving your vote for whoever addresses the racist elephant in the room. Some would call this veiled defeatism and a deceitful version of the “don’t vote'” argument. Then, you have the Bidens of the world, who will foolishly and goofily, in moments of profound white saviorism, place your very blackness at stake for not voting (for him). With these as our two main options, and then revolution as a distant, quieter option whispering out of the cracks, it doesn’t look good for us. However, it does beg a closer analysis of the pros and cons of participating in elections.
In a perfectly democratic society, voting would be the fundamental means of expressing political opinions. While there are various sources of political power, the vote is the closest thing to a great equalizer that currently exists. In a democratic paradise, the vote would allow the citizenry to allocate public resources in direct response to the needs of the people. It would be an assurance that tax dollars go where the people want them to flow and that projects necessary to communities are advocated for.
Amongst the vote’s various utilities, it is the poor man's political gun (aside from, of course, a real gun). In a democratic paragon, enough of the downtrodden could easily override the elite’s popular votes and leverage change against this ruling, maintaining a delicate balance
between the wants of those who belong to the status quo, and the needs of those who do not.
What I’ve described here is the ideal. The reality is much more stained with nepotism and unmerited, irresponsible power. As Americans, Black Americans, our choices in this presidential election are between a misogynistic demagogue whose political career has been built on the most xenophobic sentiment of white America, and Joe Biden, whose political life has been in opposition to Black folks. This is the same Joe Biden whose previous avid support for strict police tactics and vocal sponsoring of the 1994 federal crime bill put a whole generation
of Black people behind bars. His two-faced nature toward Black folks is only overshadowed by his lusty marriage to the more moderate factions of the Republican Party. What is even more demoralizing is that the candidate for Black millennials, Bernie Sanders, was snubbed for the last eight years. The only thing that both parties can agree on is their mutual distaste for Bernie Sanders and his politics, and Black millennials are beginning to notice.
It's no wonder we feel so unheard and politically useless. Many would say, “Voting is useless,” in a fit of emotional passion. To these people I respond, “What else is there to do?" For as anti-American and revolutionary as our generation is, we lack the political resources and clear leadership to leave the country or revolt, so what we must do is what we can do: vote. Protest and remain politically engaged. Protect yourself because the police sure as hell will not.
Let me leave you with this: In a democratic society, the population is political stock by which our ownership in a nation is measured. As a people, we allocate much of our energy to the presidential election, forgetting we represent a measly thirteen percent. We could recalibrate our focus to state politics, but even our Black mecca is dominated by republican and white politics. We continue to play a game that we did not choose, and which is stacked against us. Should we continue to participate in a rigged game, or should we stop playing altogether?