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Posted under: News Opinion Politics

Why being woke doesn't translate to votes #StopAskingPermission

Normally in our #StopAskingPermission column, we highlight someone who is making a difference in government without asking for permission. This week we chose to turn the mirror on ourselves and, thanks to a recent Washington Post article, remind ourselves about what being woke is all about. As we get closer to November two things as are for sure:

1. We are running low on options.

2. The reign of President Obama will have to come to an end. 

stopaskingpermission
stopaskingpermission
Photo: Omnidan As the road to becoming the next President of the United States gets murkier and secrets about each candidate become front page stories, you might feel like most of us do — hopeless. It can almost seem as though you have to choose the lesser of two evils. Despite the fact that we have seen an increase in political engagement, the Washington Post reports that the increase in engagement doesn't translate to an increase of black voters at the polls. In other words, we are doing a great job of making the issues that matter the most to us (such as systematic racism and police brutality) ballot issues, but we aren't casting in our votes.

We are forcing the candidates to ask the hard questions, but we aren't voting to change the laws that are the root of the issue.

I'm all for running up at a rally and making a candidate answer the hard questions and start thinking of policies that can combat the issues that affect our community the most. However, I'm also down for a post-run-up strategy. President Obama said it best in his graduation speech to the students of Howard University, "You have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes."
Photo: Cosmopolitan The way we engage with the government has changed.  Ashley Williams told the Washington Post, "Voting is definitely one way, and I wouldn't insult my ancestors by telling people they shouldn't vote, but there are other ways of reimagining and restructuring the world that lies in organizing our communities." She's right for a myriad of reasons. It's now easier than ever to tweet a sitting President, watch the First Lady on Instagram or email a congressman or local city council member. There are numerous ways to get involved thanks to the various digital platforms that allow us to do so with ease. The accessibility of those who represent us might have changed from the Civil Rights Era, but the issues that plague us have not. Neither has our right to vote. In a survey done last year by the Black Youth Project , 70.8 percent of young black people believed that by participating in politics, they can make a difference. The survey also showed that 68.5 percent of black youth believed that the leaders in government care very little about people like them. With the increased mobilization of movements through Black Lives Matter and the increased number of us who are "woke," it's hard to believe that these statistics have decreased. If we include the number of times we have run up in a Trump rally or called Hillary out for trolling, it safe to say we would at least be at 85 percent. We are great at participating and voicing our concerns, but horrible at exercising our lawful right that was once deemed a privilege. The Black Youth Project shed light on some of the issues keeping us from the polls. The top reasons for us not showing up were:
  1. Not registered to vote
  2. Disinterested in politics
  3. Didn't like the candidates
  4. Didn't have proper identification
Listen up folks, these reasons force me to put out a call for action. There's no reason there are more of us that are woke than there are registered to vote. I understand your disinterest in candidates and politics. It might not be your thing, which is cool. But is making sure your child has a quality education your thing?  How about taxes? Is making sure you're given tax breaks and credits your thing? Is making sure the government continues to provide financial aid for you to attend college, grad school, medical school or law school your thing? You see where I'm going with this. Even if it's not your thing, it's still your responsibility to vote. Choose the candidate that represents your interests at best – even if it's limited. We have seen in the past what happens when people take a stand and make a decision to stop asking for permission and start making a difference. Don't let your difference just be a hashtag and tweet, let it be a strategy for reformation. Stop asking for permission, woke people don't need it.

In the meantime, I'll be watching to see who is really woke in these streets. #StopAskingPermission

stopaskingpermission
stopaskingpermission
Photo: Giphy

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