History should have taught us that we cannot afford to sit any election out
In 1982, the Democratic nominee and then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley was perceived to be the favorite to become California’s first Black Governor. The polls showed Bradley had a sizable lead over his Republican challenger, George Deukmejian and by 6 p.m. several news stations were reporting that Bradley had been the projected winner. But then, something strange happened. Many African Americans who thought Bradley’s win was done went home after work instead of going to the polls to cast their vote. That morning to the shock of many, Deukmejian surged ahead late in the evening and surpassed Bradley to win the governorship.
With George Deukmejian now elected governor California built eight new prisons, a 67% increase beyond the 12 prisons California previously had. These new prisons launched the “tough on crime” era not only in California but around the nation.
When the successes of the Civil Rights Movement promised to manifest racial equality, this tough on crime rhetoric began the upswing on “Black Criminality” and the reassertion of White supremacy. It was never blatant, and in many cases was far less overt and for more passive, but the results were the same. Jim Crow racism was masked under the guise of “tough on crime” and all of a suddent Black mass incarceration was alive and well in California. The prison boom emerged out of that tough on crime movement. The statement tough on crime was never openly anti-Black or anti-Brown, but one look at the outcome demonstrates that the effects have been every bit as lethal. Historically Anti-Black has always featured the myth of Black criminality. Remember that slave owners always tried to sell the idea that slavery was beneficial to both the slaves and the masters.
Now, fast forward to 2016 and the election of Donald Trump. Once again, many thought that because of all that Trump had done and said throughout his campaign, the womanizing, the racist rants and all of the legal and business lawsuits many thought that “he would never be elected President”. So, while Hillary Clinton may have been uninspiring and many were “Pro Burnie Sanders” there is no doubt that the apathy and lack of Black voter turnout played a vital role in the election of Donald Trump.
California State Governor Gavin Newsom (AP Image)
Donald Trump’s election like in the 1982 election of George Deukmejian inspired and anti-Black, and Black criminality movement that grew larger and larger as Trump served his four-year term as President of the United States, culminating during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. This insurrection was the direct result of mass Black voter turnout to repeal him due to our previous no show at the polls in the 2016 election.
Today, we find ourselves fending off another challenge to our freedoms, to our dignity and to our way of life. California, which is predominantly democratic, is now in the midst of a recall election which could unseat the Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom to replace him with a republican/Donald Trump candidate and front man like Larry Elder.
History should have taught us by now that when we show up and make our voices heard, we can make a difference. It is our votes that are all too often the deciding votes for any candidate looking to be elected. But unfortunately, all too often, it is our low voting numbers that can also be deciding factors in an election, particularly when we feel uninspired or that our one voice/vote will not make a difference. This is the defeatist mindset that Donald Trump and the Republican Recall is betting on; they know that we will not vote for Larry Elder or any other Republican candidate. But what they are banking on is Blacks not voting at all, which is just like casting a vote for the Republican nominee.
California State Governor Gavin Newsom(AP Image)
Let’s not be fooled! A NO SHOW IS A YES VOTE for Donald Trump and the Republican-led anti- Black, “anti-Crime”, anti-affirmative action, anti-progress party who wants nothing more than to suppress our voices, suppress our progress and suppress our influence all in the name of “reform.” We Must Show Up and Vote!
We cannot let our failures of the past repeat themselves and become our failures for our future. Our children deserve better, our elderly deserve better, our community deserves the opportunity to recover from the pandemic without having to also overcome the racist undertones which have been plaguing cities in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and throughout the red states of the South now that there is Democratic leadership in the White House.