Feature Week of June 13, 2004
THE WAY BLACKS VOTE: FOR LOVE OR MONEY?
Economic rights, and not party loyalty, should be the tradition driving African-American voting in 2004. Before we cast votes in the November elections shouldn’t our bottom line goal be: To support political parties and leaders doing something to embody our economic and political growth?
All the presidential candidates would love to have the black vote, but before we give it have we accessed which ones are discussing money and programs African Americans need for parity in America? It’s a fact, the majority of Black Americans are lacking in health and living standards such as: income and earnings, home ownership, education, savings and investments and policy and institutional access. Across the board, black lifestyles are just 73 percent of that of whites. So, what has the person you intend to vote for done to make opportunities in education, business and every area of social life available to the African-American community?
Shouldn’t our communities get more bucks back for our ballots? Americans have one of the highest standards of living in the world. But, the index for blacks is not the same. Standard of living is generally measured by income per person, measures of health such as life expectancy, safety, resources, environmental economics and social justice, and it’s not the same for us. The candiate that seeks to help blacks index entitlements and other benefits due to losses in our well-being and and social deficit over the past 400 years should get our attention, and ballot, over party alligence.
In 2004, African Americans are still in the back of the bus. Racial inequalities in unemployment, family income, imprisonment, average wealth, and infant mortality are actually worse than when Martin Luther King was killed. Establishment leadership keep informing us that progress has been made in narrowing the black-white divide in per capita income, poverty, home ownership, education, life expectancy, and median wealth, but that progress has been so slow that it would take decades, even centuries, to close at current rates.
In 1968, when Dr. King died, the typical black family had 62 percent as much income as a white family; in 2002 it was only 58 percent as much. Black unemployment is more than twice the white rate - a wider gap than in 1972. Black infants are almost two and a half times as likely as white infants to die before age one - a greater gap than in 1970. The way blacks have been balloting has taken us backward. White households had an average net worth of $468,200 in 2001, more than six times black households’ $75,000. In 1989, average white wealth was five and a half times black wealth. If nothing is done to accelerate black progress on these indices, it will take blacks 6 years to close the high school graduation gap, 71 years to close the one in college graduation and 581 years to close the gaps in per-capita income gap and 1,664 years for the one in home ownership. These statistics are an indication of how much blacks need to flex their political muscle to turn their situation around.
Slavishly, blacks supply votes while others reap the Democratic Party’s legislative benefits. Gays, unions, Jews, pro-choice and feminist groups all get more out of the Democrats than Blacks do; and the Party’s 2004 candidate indicates no incentive to change the status quo. At an April town hall forum, Senator John Kerry told Howard University students that he doesn't support financial reparations for blacks, saying it would only divide the nation and "not heal the wounds." "I personally do not believe that America is going to advance if we go backwards and look to reparations in the way that some people are defining them" said Kerry.
Even though opportunities for blacks regarding affirmative action, racial profiling and small-business contracts with the government are on the regress, black party hacks will tell you that a vote for someone like Ralph Nader is “a wasted vote”. On the other hand, a vote for Ralph Nader, and increasing our involvement in Independent politics, would be a significant step in flexing our muscle. Establishment political parties may not have our best interests in mind. In his position papers Nader makes it abundantly clear that for most Americans, the political process is broken. He says the influence of corporate and special interests over politicians (black and white) and the electoral process has moved elected representatives away from the aspirations and concerns of those whom they represent “and that should change”.
We have the power to change things in our hands. Shouldn’t blacks do some critical thinking about why and for whom we vote? Ralph Nader is the only white man around who supports reparations, and thinks it is a good idea that’s necessary toward the healing of America's racial divide. He is the only one who says that federal and state governments and the private sector both played a hand in and benefited from slavery. A majority of blacks voting for Ralph Nader would raise reparations on the national political agenda and make the greatest push in America’s history in inducing real efforts to end the country’s unequal and unfair racial divide.
© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com