Monday, September 25, 2017
Why Black Americans Should Vote Their Race… For Once
Published April 3, 2008

Reprint from Pasadena Journal

I never cease to be amazed at the race-sensitive conscience of Black Americans. Why are we the only race in the world embarrassed to choose itself? Why do we as Blacks have sudden pangs of conscience when faced with issues that are as clear as … well … as clear as Black and white?

When my brother and I were sub-teens, we routinely rooted for the team with the most Black players even if it meant rooting against our hometown team. Instinctively, Roland and I actually counted the Black players on each team and deliberately chose the team who was the “Blackest.” I loved John Elway until he played against Doug Williams in Super Bowl XXII. The news media made it a Black and White issue so, Senior Pastor, I stood in the pulpit of the Pasadena Church of God, Pasadena, CA. and said, “Let’s pray that Doug Williams will do so well that the intelligence of Black athletes will never be questioned again. This is not just a game, our race has been called out publicly.” The rest is history. Doug Williams and the Washington Redskins beat the Great White Hope John Elway and the Denver Broncos 40-10. Black America went crazy! It turns out that most Blacks in the country were praying the same prayer. This is the sad experience of minorities starved for positive roles, news and representation. This is the experience of most Blacks trying not to be the negative hype of a majority society.

On the other hand, my mother absolutely detested the early television shows such as “Amos and Andy” and “Beulah” which she complained were ignorant, embarrassing and a “discredit to our race.” In fact, whenever a crime was committed the first question asked in the average Black household was, “Was he Black or White?” or “I sho’ hope he wasn’t Black.”

I suspect this is a generational sickness; a post-slavery carryover evidenced by an inordinate appreciation—even affection—for Whites who have “stood with us” during the civil rights battles of the 50’s and 60’s. This is the “stay with the system” generation; the old guard democrats who “deliver the Black vote” in exchange for a few private political handouts that never make it to the streets.

Interestingly and maybe thankfully, a young generation of Black and White Americans without the stranglehold of political IOU’s, historical hang-ups and self-doubt have arisen with a new song, a fresh hope and a morally clean voice that has begun to win over their skeptical parents and grandparents. Not since John F. Kennedy has a young brilliant mind given so many people so much hope.

A dream is a vision while one is asleep. A vision is a dream while one is awake. “Old men dream dreams, young men see visions” that are people friendly and inclusive; that bring down walls of race, politics, gender and economics. Rejecting the notion of political dynasty whether Bush or Clinton they have demanded straight talk, inclusive dialogue and consensus building.

Have we been so brainwashed that Black is bad that even in the 21st century we are still looking for Nadenola cream and a nightly rub of cocoa-butter to lighten our skin and make us “light, bright and almost White so that we can blend in?” Then why all the breast-beating and feet shuffling when one of the brightest and most prepared young Black men in our lifetime comes along and says, “I want to be President of the United States of America? Did we not tell him as a child it could be so? Didn’t we promise him we would be there for him when he was ready? For crying out loud—the boy is a man and the man is a U. S. Senator with “street creds.” Or, while waiting for him to come along have we mortgaged our souls and leveraged our bets for the short term favors of establishment politicians?

Should not our loyalty have term limits? Are we so beholden and so loyal to a good and descent White friend and his wife who have had their turn at leadership that we would deny the best and brightest of our own—who is touched with “the feelings of our infirmity.” Does it matter that, according to Fox News Polls, Barack is leading Hillary as “the most honest, the most integrity, the most likeable, the most electable, the most visionary and the candidate most likely to bring about fundamental change.”

Dr. M. Tyrone Cushman may be reached at

Categories: Op-Ed

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