Black Americans need to understand just how important each of our individual voices are. One vote can be the difference that gives America a President who represents the diverse concerns of everyone in this country. Photo Credit: Alyx Beeten

Dear Black voters,

As a Black American woman, I learned the most powerful tool for any Black person to have is a ballot. But not everyone in our community feels urged to make their voices known. This is okay–if you don’t care about the 1100 Americans that were killed by police in 2019 alone, or that Black citizens are five times more likely to be incarcerated than any other race. It is no help that strict regulations during the voting process have encouraged Black citizens lack of involvement, but we don’t have to accept these unjust situations. Our concerns could be resolved if only our community understood just how crucial their vote was. 

For years, African Americans have been told what to do and how to do it. From slavery to the civil war, Black people have experienced horrors that are unimaginable. However, those horrors our ancestors experienced gave them the bravery to fight for a world where we get to choose—yet, in so many ways, we still aren’t. In the last presidential election, of all eligible Black female voters, only 55 percent of them even voted

55 percent. Imagine the impact the other 45 percent of eligible voters could have made on the polls. The lack of voting participation is likely due to America’s history of voter suppression in the past that left Black citizens uninformed on the voting process. Unnecessary poll closures and strict voter ID laws have prevented low-income communities from being involved in the voting process for years, but we don’t have to be fearful of this seemingly intimidating process. While the removal of these strict procedures would be beneficial, our ancestors bled for us to take advantage of this opportunity, so we cannot allow it to prevent us from our citizen earned right. 

The platform I have as a columnist allows my voice to be heard, but this isn’t the case for other African Americans. While statistics show minorities are significantly less likely to vote, especially in areas with strict ID laws, a recent study showed that their votes matter more than anything. For example, without the help of the 92 percent of female Black voters in the 2018 midterm election, Democrats would not have won the house back. 

Countless studies and time has shown that Black voters are the secret weapon in elections for candidates to prioritize. Even if it feels like one voice doesn’t make a difference, understand that the percent of Black female voters is just a collection of individual people using their voice. We have an advantage with our votes – imagine the amount of issues that could be resolved if Congress were made aware just how much we cared.

Voting for a leader that represents similar concerns as us is crucial for advancing as a society. Issues that seem far out of our control actually depend more on us than we think. When we don’t collectively swarm the polls and demand to be heard, our issues are never seen as significant and thus never fixed. Statistically, we have ranked criminal justice, healthcare, hate crimes and equality as the most prevalent concerns our community faces. There is no way that information can be sent to Congress if we aren’t voting for the right people to represent us. It is clear that we want a change, but we cannot do so by allowing Election Day to pass us by. 

I can only hope that we will soon live in a world where every person of color feels compelled to make their worries known. It comes to no surprise that there are issues within our country, but solving them is up to us. Candidates can no longer get away with just showing support for Black women, now they must invest time in understanding and resolving our concerns. The path has been paved and candidates want your vote, all we have to do is participate in the election, so what is stopping you?

SALUTATION,

Eriyale Williams

Will you be voting in the upcoming presidential election?