The political landscape certainly can be shifted by Black politicians, but it takes the realization of potential to make that change.

Local Detroit personality, Chi Uwazurike, 27, believes this wholeheartedly, but first we have to acquire the knowledge to know our power.

Uwazurike — whose talents and passions range from fashion design, photography and entrepreneurship — is dedicated to shining a light on the importance of voting and its impact on his community.

That’s why he partnered with NextGen America’s Black Lives Rising and Blavity in Detroit to host a Trivia Bingo Voter Registration Event at his alma mater, Wayne State University in October. The goal was to help his fellow Wayne State Warriors learn about the importance of voting for this upcoming election.

“This collab was very important because when you’re looking at two outlets come together for a common goal, it shows that the relevance for voting right now is at an all-time high,” Uwazurike said. “This means there’s a problem, and there’s a disconnect between the youth and the older crowds because they know the importance of voting, and they’re the ones that know the consequences.”  

The WSU alum was ecstatic to be back on his campus, especially for the cause. He was happy to witness the changes on campus, but he’s also proud to see students understand the importance of voting.

“I think almost everybody at Wayne State–if not everybody, at least 80 percent registered to vote because that's something that Wayne State always did,” Uwazurike said. “They’ve always exercised their voting rights. There are always people at Wayne State with petitions, ready to ask people are they registered to vote.”

Uwazurike says the school is the heart of Detroit, and it’s important that everybody exercises their right to vote. He believes that the influence of black student voters at colleges are very powerful during midterm elections. But unfortunately, he assumes his colleagues don’t think the same way. He feels like the only time they really believe that their votes are influential is during the presidential election.

He knows because he was also that student.

He believes black political power is very important now because a lot of young people under 30 are running for big offices in an effort to make a generational change. One example includes Jewell Jones who became the youngest state representative to ever be elected in Michigan.

Uwazurike says the people that currently set the policies have a one-track mindset. They want things to be the same way as it was 40 years ago.

Unfortunately, Uwazurike also admits there’s a lot of black youth that doesn’t want to go into politics because they say it’s a “dirty game”. But, he thinks it has to be a balance in representation. He believes that some of us have to go into politics to clear the lane and open doors. He feels as if we’re getting our foot in the door now.

With black votes, we can stand up and get our people in those offices to ensure that we make our voices heard, our goals met and our demands considered, believes Uwazurike. Without this power, he also believes we don’t have a chance in business or entrepreneurship.

“That’s what black votes do,” Uwazurike said. “They make sure that our people are being heard and at this crucial time, this is when we need that. We need to come together for a common goal. We’re really fast to condemn things, but when it comes to our lives and our future, our future has to be secured. So with that being said, we have to vote. I can't stress that enough.”

Some issues he finds especially important to address during the 2018 midterm elections include police brutality, incarceration and gun control.

“People really think that the presidential election is where it's at, ‘no’,” he added. “For any president to carry out his job, he needs a backbone. He needs a back end. He needs the [midterm] elections. We need those things because those are the people that are helping carry out those goals. So we have to get the right people in there.”

One of the tactics Uwazurike uses to engage people in voting is asking them what changes they want to see and what they’re going to do to step up to make those changes. He tells them one way they can do so is by voting – It takes just one vote to change lives.

“You want to tell your kids I voted, and I changed something,” Uwazurike said. “You don't want to tell your kids you didn’t vote. Your kids are going to grow up and think it's okay not to do anything. If you don’t like something then change it. Don't complain about it. Even if you do complain about it, go out and change it. Although you feel like you’re not making a difference, trust me you are.”

Another way he convinces people that their votes matter is to have them test out their theory that their votes don’t matter.

“It’s a psychological thing,” Uwazurike said. “That’s why I tell people, you feel like your vote don’t matter, why don’t you try now. Do your research and vote and let’s see what happens. Because that’s the thing, they probably voted a couple of times in the past and they felt like it didn’t even matter – but that’s the thing, the demographic has changed.”

“We’re more powerful now,” he added. “There are more entrepreneurs now. There is more youth now. We’re more inviting. We’re the generation of change. So given that you might've thought that it didn’t matter before, trust me it matters now.”

Uwazurike recalls the first time he voted and remembering how it just felt good to know he mattered. He felt like he earned it to have his voice be heard without actually speaking. He believes that’s a feeling everybody should have everytime we vote.

He emphasized that we have to make sure that we research the policies of the people that we’re voting for and make sure the policies fit your lifestyle, your family’s lifestyle and the people you love the most. Doing research is one thing Uwazurike feels like people lack and that’s the problem.

Having events like mixers and the Blavity Trivia Bingo is a great way to connect with the students and keep them informed.

Connecting and vibing with students in their environment makes them more open to being approached about the policies of the candidates and what changes the candidates are trying to make, according to Uwazurike

He also emphasized there’s no black political power without youth.

“The point is, we have to do the research for them and present it to them so that in that way they don't have to hesitate,” Uwazurike said. “All they have to do is register to vote or just go vote.”

“So with that being said, black political power matters,” Uwazurike added. “Think about it, our voices and our actions match. We’re passionate about this.”

Paid for by NextGen Climate Action Committee;; Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.