This morning, the eloquent and down first lady, Michelle Obama, talked to us about her “Let’s Move” initiative to combat childhood obesity, why it’s so important for adults to stay fit and healthy and the crucial upcoming mid-term elections that are about three weeks away. She’s on the campaign trail, stumping for the Democratic Party … and they need it so badly.
The idea of the election being so close, coupled with a predicted low turnout for African-Americans, has thrown some of us into panic mode. I could have been counted among the pessimists if I had kept believing what I read and heard.
But then, I began to ask myself not will black people turn out for the election on Nov. 2nd, but why wouldn’t we? We’re the same people we were in 2008, with same hopes and dreams as we had, with the audacity to believe that we could do what had never been done before — elect the first black chief executive of the United States of America.
Now, two years later, what better way to kill the buzz and momentum than to predict a poor turnout at the polls, not because of any type of right-wing media conspiracy, but simply because, for mainstream media, the idea that black people are fed up and unmotivated to vote is a better story. No, not the better the story – the easier story. And more and more, that’s what media outlets have to opt for.
I’ve discovered that the quickest way to find the truth in almost any situation is to follow the money. The economy is in such bad shape that almost every industry, including the news business, is hurting. Not only do newspaper publishers and broadcasting companies still have to pay employee salaries and all the other expenses needed just to keep the doors open; they have to figure out how to produce their product the cheapest, fastest way.
Look at the stories making the headlines these days – Bishop Eddie Long, the Chilean miners, heck, Brett Favre taking pictures of his private parts. Gone are the days when reporters have time to really investigate, fact-check and then report on a story, not when the tabloid TV papers and TV shows run with the first hint of gossip they receive.
So, I’m not surprised that mainstream media is settling for the sexier story about our apathy regarding the November election.
But they don’t know what we know. If they did, they would consider the fact that we’ve leaped over much bigger hurdles than this. Don’t go by what you here; go by what you know.
Y’all tease me all the time about not going to church, and I may not, but I know a lot about faith. It isn’t based on numbers and grafts and polls; it’s based on an unshakeable belief. We know what needs to be done, and we know how to do it.
I don’t care who they poll or don’t poll. I’m not even dealing with that. What I’m dealing with is the belief that this is our time. We set out to get a task done, and voting in 2008 was Part One.
Part Two is coming up on Nov. 2.
Personally, I don’t know anyone who isn’t planning to vote this November, so, in the words of the old Negro spiritual, I ain’t gonna let nothing turn me around – especially news reports claiming that we won’t show up.
As the six organizers of the March on Washington prepared for the demonstration, no one had any idea how many would show up. There was opposition from everyone – from President Kennedy, who initially feared the march would hurt pending civil rights legislation, to the KKK, which obviously opposed anything supporting racial equality. But on Aug. 28th, 1963, an estimated quarter of a million people showed up.
I’m keeping hope and faith alive that we’re going to do the right thing – not just black people, but Hispanics, white people and everyone else who voted in the presidential election. But if that’s not enough for you, take your own “For Real, For Real” poll, and ask everybody you know whether they’re voting in November. If they say no, tell them why they should, remind them as the day gets closer, and take them with you on Nov. 2nd.
It won’t make headlines, but it will do something better. It will allow us to make good on the commitment we made in 2008. We’re still on the journey, but only halfway there.