There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about the power of voting. In a society in which many aspects of our livelihoods aren’t controlled by us, it is important that we at least have a say on who is allowed to lead our nation. As citizens of the U.S., we aren’t necessarily given the chance to determine the future of healthcare policy or the allocation of public school funding. Casting our vote is the only way we can ensure that our interests are taken into consideration when decisions are being made that directly affect our lives. While the importance of voting needs to be constantly reiterated, it is a topic that is heavily discussed. What deserves more attention is the power of the Black vote specifically.
As the current election cycle continues to unfold, the ability of 13% of the population to control the results of the Democratic presidential campaigns has become increasingly clear. In recent months, both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have experienced devastating lows and unexpected highs in the polls, and four candidates — Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, and Kamala Harris have ended their campaigns. All of these phenomena have at least one common denominator—they were influenced by how these candidates were perceived by Black voters. For the bulk of 2019, and even some of 2020, Biden’s kryptonite was young Black voters. His stance on bussing, his revealed lack of support for Anita Hill in her sexual assault case against Clarence Thomas, and his blaming of Black mothers for the racial achievement gap caused a rocky foundation for his campaign. However, the South Carolina polls, which are made up largely of Black voters, revived Biden’s chances in the same way they devastated Buttigieg and Steyer’s. And as for Kamala Harris, her questionable stances on issues that are most pertinent to Black voters, as well as her perceived lack of authenticity when it came to her comments on racial justice, led to her slowed momentum and decreased availability of funds. In the past six months, the ability of the Black vote to be either the kiss of death or the source of life for any given campaign has become increasingly clear. There is no denying the power of the black vote.
The only thing left to happen is for the people with this power to take advantage of it. Historically, this hasn’t been seen as a viable option. This country’s track record of disenfranchisement and discriminatory voting practices has, understandably, stolen our community’s sense of hope. However, as contradictory as this may seem, utilizing this system is the only way to stop it from abusing us. Voting in people who represent us and our values is one of the best things we can do to create a system that works more for our benefit. Even as the Democratic primaries come to a close, this message remains important. It is one that extends to every political office that we are able to vote on, from the local level to the national level. There is power in the Black vote, and it needs to be harnessed.