The Black vote is critical on Nov. 3

Columnist Phylicia Wright. Photo courtesy Wright

There are nearly 40 days left until the general election and this is by far one of the most important elections in recent memory.

From the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to the historic battle with injustice in Black  communities, it is imperative to understand the need for the African American vote. There has been a decrease of  African American voters since the 2008 and 2012 elections when former President Barack Obama was the Democratic nominee.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2012 the Black voters surpassed the turnout rate for white Americans for the first time. Black voters had a 66.2% turnout rate while non-Hispanic white voters had a 62.2% turnout rate. However, in the 2016 presidential election the turnout rate of Black Americans went down by at least 10%. Black voters had a 59.6% turnout rate while non-Hispanic white voters had a 65.3% turnout rate.

In 2008 and 2012 President Obama won both the Electoral College and the popular vote. While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote, her opponent and now president, Donald Trump, surpassed her in the Electoral College. There has been talk about getting rid of the electoral College because it could indeed affect any political party.

Some Black Americans since the 2016 election have felt that their vote doesn’t matter and has little to none impact. With Clinton winning the popular vote and not the election, it may have built confusion and animosity toward the voting process.

Nonetheless, if Black voters would have turned out the way they did in the 2008 and 2012, America could have experienced its first female president.

President Trump has been campaigning publicly with crowds during a pandemic that he knew was going to be extremely contagious. The Trump administration has managed to make the pandemic, social distancing, and wearing a mask a political statement by ignoring the scientific and medical facts.

Also, before and during his presidency, he deliberately made racist and unapologetic comments toward Black Americans and other minorities. He has also described the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist group. Some Americans including Blacks have continued to support him, which is indeed their right to do. But, more Americans have become enraged due to his political behavior.

Christian Miley, a junior at FAMU, was  part of a group of students who held the “March for Justice,” which focused on social justice and voting initiatives. During the march to the Capitol protesters were also able to register to vote and speak on racial injustice and the importance of voting. Miley also believes that if enough Black people register and vote it could possibly have an impact in the upcoming presidential election.

“It is important for us to vote because we need a voice in this country and we also need an accurate representation of our people. I need someone fighting for us at the table while we are fighting for us in the streets,” Miley said.

Voting is an American right for all. The state recently allowed former felons to vote — if they pay their fines. In order to get a different outcome in the approaching election, Black Americans must vote this election or it will affect not just us but generations to come.

Black Americans had to fight for the opportunity to vote and the passing of the 15th Amendment allowed us to do so. Therefore, Black votes have always mattered and will continue to matter in any and all elections.