WE MUST VOTE LIKE OUR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT … BECAUSE IT DOES!
Noted activist, playwright and novelist, James Baldwin, wrote “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” His words are as relevant today as they were when Baldwin first wrote them.
The world is out of sync. The economy is on the brink of collapse, businesses are failing at an unprecedented rate, and unemployment is at an all-time high. Schools are forced to be session virtually, and while COVID-19 has already killed over 200,000, unfortunately Black and Brown people have died at far higher and disproportionate rate than others. No matter what the current presidential propaganda is, we are not likely to see a vaccine for at least another 6 to12 months and the realistic perspective of what it will take to get life back to a “new normal,” is like trying to figure out who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t?
Whether you are a political junkie, a Black Lives Matter activist, or just working every day to do the best of your abilities for yourself and your family, this election will set the course for your life and the life of future generations for years to come! Our reality is that November 3, 2020, will be our day of reckoning; a day that we as Black men and women will come to reckon with the simple fact that the Black community, not only here in Los Angeles, but across the country, will either rise up and let our voices be heard or we will stay home and passively allow others to decide what our destiny and future will be.
Voting is a sacred right. Many of our ancestors fought and died for us to have this right. Many have been beaten, jailed and died to ensure that our vote and our voices would someday be heard. We have all seen and heard of the attacks from the current White House Administration to weaken and or water down our right to vote. We cannot and we will not let these actions occur. Whether you intend to vote by mail or show up to the polls, we must make sure that our votes and our voices are heard loud and clear.
It is easy to focus on the Presidential election, and for many of us, the answer is clear and simple. Do we continue forward with the current Presidential Administration, an administration that cares nothing about our community, that cares nothing about our issues and cares nothing about our quality of life. Or, do we embrace change, do we vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and begin to find a way out of the misery and nightmarish state we have suffered through for the past four years? Do we continue ignoring the devastation that America has been under from COVID-19? Do we watch passively as a government moves forward and the rich get richer, while the Black community, communities of color, women, and all good people of good will, concern and compassion for one another, continue to suffer?
Los Angeles, we must show up to vote in mass; we must make it our responsibility to not only vote, but we must ensure that our family and friends also vote. We must create phone banks of people and check-ins with our family and friends in other states to see to it that they too have cast their votes. The truth is, that California is a very Democratic state and most likely, California and its 55 electoral college votes will go to the Biden/Harris ticket. But, what about the other states? What about those swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan or those bubble states like Arizona, Nevada and even Texas? We can be the swing that tips the scales of righteousness in our favor. Just think, if we show up in mass and vote, like we never have before, how strong the Black vote could be. We can make the difference on who will lead this country out of the pandemic and into the future … that would be real power.
MONEY CAN’T BUY OUR LOVE
But, there are other elections at hand that we must pay equal attention to. The Republican Party has put millions of dollars into the campaign to support agent provocateur Joe Collins for Congress in an attempt to defeat Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We, as Black voters can play a major role in sending a message, loud and clear, that some things and some people are afraid, and that no one is allowed to try and distract or twist our loyalty by agent provocateurs disguised as change agents attempting to do other people’s bidding.
First, question is who is Joe Collins? Where did he come from and who is funding his multi-million-dollar campaign against our Congresswoman, our member of congress who has not been afraid to ask the tough questions when the tough questions weren’t popular, and who is never afraid to stand up for US. In this election, we must say NO! We must show up and let our voices be heard. Let every and anyone know that there is no amount of money that they can spend that will compromise our allegiance to those who have stood with us when others turned their backs. Our pride, our opinion and our loyalty will not be bought and cannot be compromised, and we will take issue with anyone who sells us out and chooses dollars over dedication.
While this race has two strong African American candidates, both vying to replace Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is leaving office because of term limits, it is Los Angeles Councilman and former Council president, Herb Wesson, who has become the clear choice to become the newest member of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, representing the 2nd Supervisorial District.
The Second District is the home to the largest population of African Americans within the County of Los Angeles and Wesson has been able to garner a large and broad supporter base from across the district. He has been endorsed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Federation of Labor and the Los Angles Sentinel. Wesson has also received the support and endorsement of mayors from across the 2nd District, including Mayors Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), James Butts (Inglewood), Tasha Cerda (Gardena), Luis Solache (Lynwood) Alex Vargas (Hawthorne). He has also received the endorsement of former 2nd District Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke, who is the first woman and first African American ever elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Black Votes Matter
No race in Los Angeles creates more debate than the race for Los Angeles District Attorney. The current District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, is not the most popular candidate (even though she barely missed out on securing over 50 percent of the vote in the March primary to avoid a runoff), and not everyone is excited or confident about her effectiveness as District Attorney.
However, her opponent, George Gascon, has an equally questionable background. Many of the allegations that Lacey has been accused of here, in Los Angeles, Gascon has also been accused of during his time as District Attorney in San Francisco. In addition to the allegations that Gascon was not an effective district attorney in the Bay area, we must also not forget that Gascon is a former LAPD officer who rose up and through the ranks as a loyal officer under former Police Chief Darryl Gates. Yes, the same Darryl Gates who pulled LAPD out of South Los Angeles during the Rodney King Verdict Rebellion; the creator of the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit, the same police chief who created and believed in the “Chokehold,” which Sentinel Publisher and civil rights activist, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., former Urban League president, John Mack, First AME Pastor Cecil “Chip” Murray, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, successfully fought to have banned as a permittable use of force by LAPD. The Chokehold was responsible for the deaths of countless Black men and women by the police long before the cell phone camera brought police brutality into the light of the public eye.
In 1963, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley broke through the glass ceiling to become the first African American elected to represent the 10th Council District of Los Angeles. Bradley held this seat for 10 years, until he was elected mayor of the city in 1973. Following in Bradley’s footsteps, the seat has been one of only three seats considered by most as an African American seat. The 10th District covers some of the most diverse parts of the city, but the district is also home to some of the most sacred parts of the Los Angeles African American community. Now, former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is running to replace Herb Wesson as the councilman for the district.
Ridley-Thomas is no newcomer to Los Angeles or California politics and has a track record second to none. He was first elected to the City Council, representing the 8th District in 1991, then went on to serve in the California Assembly and the California State Senate before replacing Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, representing the Second District.
Ridley-Thomas narrowly avoided a runoff and almost won the seat outright, but a field of five candidates vying for the office in the runoff made garnering the 50 percent +1 an almost mathematical impossibility. Ridley-Thomas has the track record, experience and expertise necessary to help guide the 10th Council District through the challenging times that the district and the City face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the drastic losses in City revenue and the need for experienced leadership as Los Angeles works to both socially and economically recover from the devastation of 2020.
To add to Ridley-Thomas’ ability to assist the City in moving forward, his knowledge of how the County of Los Angeles and the resources they possess and can provide, will be a critical element as the County and the State will all need to work together to help the entire city recover.
SERVICE REMAINS THE PRIORITY
Reggie Jones-Sawyer has been the Assemblyman for the 59th Assembly District for the past eight years. During his time in the legislature, he has been one of the leading proponents in prison reform and re-entry assistance. He has advocated for housing and job training for those formerly incarcerated, as well as been of the State’s leading advocates for creating programs to deter the school-to-prison pipeline for underserved communities.
Jones-Sawyers 59th Assembly seat has been the target of outside influencers who see the seat as a “Latin Seat.” However, Jones-Sawyer sees the seat and the office he holds as a seat of the people. He has actively been working throughout the community ensuring that his district has all of the resources his constituents need to navigate through the challenges and obstacles created by COVID-19 and the effects of the pandemic.
Jones-Sawyer is and remains and effective leader, deserving of the community’s support and VOTE. We need to reward good and steady leadership and experience during these trying times and there is not a more effective leader in Los Angeles representing our community in Sacramento than Reggie Jones-Sawyer.
WE MUST VOTE, OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT
This election has numerous candidates and issues that can and will affect our community, both in the short and long run. The candidates we elect can and will change the narrative for our community for the next several years and we must make sure our vote and our choices are loud and clear. The challenges that face our community and our people are tough and we need to make sure that we show up and vote for those leaders who will represent us and our issues to the fullest. This article is but a small glimpse into why certain races and certain candidates need our support and our vote now, more than ever, and we hope that you all take these thoughts into careful consideration as you show up and vote on November 3, 2020.