As soon as Popeyes’ officially launched its new fried chicken sandwich nationwide last year on Aug. 12, many Black folks all across the country began crowding the fast food chain’s locations inside and blocking the sidewalks outside.
As soon as the new Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red” sneakers went on sale nationwide at malls this year on May 2, many Black folks all across the country (and primarily in Georgia) began crowding the athletic footwear stores inside and blocking the walkways outside.
At the outset, I must make something very clear: Black people (as well as other people) obviously have the right to eat and wear whatever they want. But, as adults and as racially oppressed adults, shouldn’t we prioritize stuff? Shouldn’t we pursue political- hence social, legislative, economic, and educational- justice as fervently as we pursue some damn chicken and sneakers? I’m jus’ sayin’.
I know some readers will say, “It wasn’t only Blacks lining up for that chicken and those sneakers, so don’t blame us.” Well, yes, you’re right about other ethnic groups doing the same thing. But you’re wrong if you think that matters. Why? Here’s why: Those other groups weren’t kidnapped, bought, sold, separated, enslaved, whipped, raped, lynched, “sharecropped,” convict-leased, “Jim Crowed,” miseducated, under/unemployed, redlined, voter-disenfranchised, gerrymandered, stopped-and-frisked, mass-incarcerated, and also murdered by whites on camera with impunity. As I always say, “To whom much oppression is imposed, much resistance is required.”
By the way, I’m keenly aware of relentless Republican-created attempts to disenfranchise us by recently passing voter photo ID laws and “use it or lose it” laws (that strike voters from registration rolls if they haven’t voted within a prescribed period of time), by recently reducing the number of polling places in certain neighborhoods, and by recently appointing members to the U.S. Supreme Court who gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County, Alabama v. Attorney General Eric Holder ruling.
But that’s no reason for us not to vote. Quite the contrary, it’s the reason for us to vote! Our ancestors with much less beat slavery. So you’re telling me that we- their free descendants- with much more can’t beat Republican-initiated obstacles to voting rights? If you are, I ain’t listening. My ancestors were fighters and their blood pumps through my veins. Who are your ancestors? And what would they say about you ignoring the fact that they sacrificed their lives for your right to vote?
In the 2016 presidential election, arguably the most blatantly racist major party candidate- i.e., Republican Trump- since Andrew Jackson in 1829 ran for office. And too many Black folks did nothing to stop him. In fact, Black voter turnout that year decreased compared to the previous presidential election year by nearly 800,000 from 17.2 million down to 16.4 million. Only 59% of eligible Blacks voted in 2016, down from 66% in the prior election. On the other hand though, white voter turnout actually increased. Hmm... I wonder why.
I know some readers will try to justify the low Black voter turnout by pointing out that President Barack Obama was running for reelection in the previous campaign, which motivated Blacks to vote in large numbers. OK. That argument has merit. But my counter-argument has even more merit. And I’ll explain by way of a pertinent analogy. If President Barack Obama’s record shows he’s going to give $1,000 to each Black person, that’s a good reason for us to vote for him. And if Trump’s record shows he’s going to take $10,000 from each Black person, that’s an even better reason for us to vote against him- no matter which Democratic candidate is running against him. And he’s still robbing us of that $10,000 in the form of his blatantly racist words and misdeeds.
Even if you weren’t a fan of mostly centrist/sometimes right-wing-leaning Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton- and I certainly wasn’t in any way, shape, or form- every Black adult nonetheless should have voted for her (and I did, albeit dispiritedly but pragmatically and necessarily). Those of us who did not directly vote for her indirectly voted for and ultimately helped elect Trump.
That’s a numerical fact, and numbers, like facts, don’t lie. Of the eleven “battleground states,” Trump won six. And in regard to four of those six, Florida has 29 electoral college votes, Pennsylvania 20, Ohio 18, and North Carolina 15. That’s a total of 82. Nationwide, Clinton got 232 and Trump got 306. But if all eligible Black voters in just those four aforementioned states with Black populations of 24% (North Carolina), 18% (Florida), 14% (Ohio), and 13% (Pennsylvania) had voted for Clinton- i.e., against Trump- that racist fake orange president wouldn’t be in the real White House because he would’ve gotten only 224 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 314.
The No. 1 goal in the 2020 election is to defeat the unprecedented/unpresidential racist Trump. And, yes, he’s definitely a blatant racist. You want proof? Here’s irrefutable proof:
1975 — He had to pay a fine to the U.S. Justice Department for housing discrimination violations against Blacks at 39 Trump-owned properties throughout NYC.
1989 — He had a full page ad published that sought the death penalty for five innocent Black and Brown boys known then as the “Central Park Five.”
1992 — His Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine for reassigning Black dealers off tables to accommodate the request of a racist big-time gambler.
2005 — As reported at vox.com, “Most people think race wars should be avoided. But... Trump... thought a race war would be great... [which is why he] literally wanted to make [a spin-off show called] ‘The Apprentice: White People v. Black People.’”
2011 — He spread the “birtherism” lie that President Barack Obama was an African foreigner.
2015 — He said, “Mexicans are rapists.”
2016 — He stated that despite the DNA tests that completely exonerated the “Central Park Five” who had spent decades in prison, the State of New York should not have paid even a single penny of the $41 million settlement.
2017 — He referred to Black anti-racism protester and NFL star quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a “son of a b-tch.”
2017 — He implemented the “Muslim ban” affecting Black and Brown Arabic-speaking immigrants.
2017 — He described Nazis as “very fine people” after many of them had viciously attacked several Black (and white) anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and one of them murdered an innocent unarmed protester there.
2018 — He called African nations “sh-t hole” countries.”
2018 — He sided with apartheid-supporting white farmers in South Africa by spreading a racist and completely false conspiracy theory about fictitious Black mass murderers there.
2019 — He tweeted that four Black and Brown (American) Congresswomen should “go back” to the countries they came from.
2019 — While referring to then-presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” he mocked the slaughter of approximately 30,000 of the estimated 100,000 indigenous Red people who were viciously forced off their homeland and onto barren wasteland thousands of miles away in the genocidal “Trail of Tears” from 1830-1839.
You can defeat Trump’s racism by voting in the primary election on June 2 and in the general election on November 3. For info regarding the mail-in/absentee voting deadlines, provisional voting, polling station voting, and everything else regarding voting, contact the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
And for those of you who are perversely in love with chicken and sneakers, just tell yourself that Popeye and Michael Jordan are on the ballot this year but they’re both using the name Joe Biden and also tell yourself that- although he’s even worse than Clinton was- he’s actually the greatest thing since sliced bread and PF Flyers compared to that KKK/FOP-endorsed and Nazi-condoning Trump.
Don’t line up at the stores for chicken and sneakers. Instead, line up at the polls for liberation and justice.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
They are not necessarily intended to reflect the views of the Philadelphia Tribune.