“Voting Is Black America’s Silver Lining”Published by Andre Showell on Monday, July 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm.
By Andre Showell
Think about this question and try to come with an honest answer: Do you believe that, as a race, African-Americans vote at the same rate as their white counterparts? I asked that question in the barbershop recently and just let people explain the reasons behind their answers. Overwhelmingly, the pool of African-Americans from different age and socioeconomic groups had the same answer: As a whole, they believed that we vote at significantly lower rates than our white counterparts.
Interestingly enough, they were wrong. Amid the tide of grim, and often downright discouraging, statistics we hear about the state of Black America, the one area we tend to do pretty well in is in voting and political engagement. According to the Pew Center for Research, in 2008 65.3% of eligible blacks voted, nearly equal to the 66.1% of eligible whites who voted. And in some sub-groups, African-Americans actually out-voted whites.
And the historic surge in the number of young people who came to the polls in 2008 is largely attributed to the increase in young black voters who turned out for President Barack Obama. In fact, while African-Americans make up nearly 13 percent of the population, they comprised nearly 18 percent of young voters.
I completely understand why this fact is not widely known, because as a community, African-Americans don’t fall into many of the categories that would make one more likely to vote. For example, people with higher incomes and education levels who don’t live in the Southern part of the country tend to be more likely to vote. However, in the Black community, we make less, have less education and tend to live in the South in large numbers. Also add to this the large number of Black felons who may not be able to vote or who are less likely to exercise their right to politically engage.
The fact of the matter is that, despite all of these barriers and obstacles that would stand in their way, Black people are voting. And, while there is still room for improvement, it’s time for us to be proud that we are performing our civic duty. Now, with so much at stake in the upcoming presidential election, is no time to rest on our laurels. We need to maintain the groundwork that has already been laid and turn up at the polls!