Nearly 50 million Americans now are in poverty. One in four children will grow up in impoverished households. Redressing poverty is a national emergency and a moral imperative. In our money-drenched political debate, the poor receive little attention. Yet they could be the key swing vote in this election.
President Barack Obama’s campaign said that there is a sense of urgency for African Americans to come out and vote during a roundtable briefing with black journalists at the Charlotte Convention Center ahead of Obama’s nomination speech.
- Valerie Jarrett
Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told the roundtable of journalists that the assault on voting rights should motivate blacks to get to the polls in November.
“The fact that laws are been made difficult should motivate people,” Jarrett said. “Whatever the new laws are it should motivate people even more than ever before to exercise their right to vote. ”
From a Black camera woman being pelted with nuts at the GOP convention to private remarks from House Speaker John Boehner of aspirations that Blacks and Latinos won’t vote to Mitt Romney’s jokes about President Obama’s birth certificate, the Republicans have a talent for assaulting people of color and opening up wounds from a bitter past.
Let’s be clear: The Republican ticket for the presidency – Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – have their eyes set on eliminating labor unions from the U.S. scene. No, they will not pass a law eliminating unions; they don’t need to. The existing labor laws are so weak that they make it difficult for workers to join and form unions. Additionally, Romney andRyan would make sure to appoint individuals to the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Labor Relations Authority who are eager to undermine unions. Further, they could just turn a blind eye to employer attacks on unions.
Lincoln’s words, included in the Gettysburg Address, “…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” take on an esoteric meaning as we look at today’s political situation. A brief look at politics will show anyone with an ounce of sense that “we the people” have not, do not, and will not run the U.S. government. The silly name-calling among politicians, the bought-and-paid-for members of Congress, the lack of progress on anything related to our economy, the absolute lack of concern for the poor, the elderly and veterans, the kowtowing to Wall Street puppet masters, and the total aloofness of those whom “we the people” sent to Washington are blatant examples of how screwed up our political system has become.
During the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, African-Americans mobilized and marched for issues such as segregation, racial discrimination and voting rights.
Issues Blacks face today include unemployment, health disparities, mass incarceration, education declines, voting hurdles, gun violence and the deterioration of the Black family among many others. These issues matter to African-Americans, however many would argue that very little action is taken on these issues or if an outcry does occur, the passion soon fades.
Have Blacks lost their spirit for social activism? Have Blacks forgotten how to come together to affect change?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new findings that show a “dramatic decline” in risky sexual behavior among Black youth since 1991. The data, which cover 1991 to 2011, was presented by Laura Kann, Ph.D., and Kevin Fenton, M.D. at the recently concluded 2012 International AIDS Conference here.
Despite the sobering reality that Blacks currently experience the highest rate of new HIV infections among any racial group in the U.S., the CDC findings are a heartening sign that, among Black high school students at least, efforts at promoting safer sex have borne fruit.
Nearly 6 million former prisoners –1 million of them Black – will not be able to vote in the November presidential election because of state laws that continue to punish them even after they have completed their sentences, according to a recent report by the Sentencing Project.
The report said 5.85 million citizens who were formerly incarcerated will be prevented from voting. That’s five times the entire population of Rhode Island and more than the adult population (18-65 years old) of Virginia.
Lest we forget, the price for our right to vote was life-sacrificed, blood-soaked, jail-filled, and tear-wrenched. As we approach the national elections on November 6, I am concerned that there is an urgent necessity to increase Black American voter registration, mobilization and overall enthusiasm. This is not the time for the apathy of pessimism or the dysfunction of cynicism. We should not wait until a few weeks or days before the elections to understand and affirm the critical importance of ensuring the highest possible voter turnout of Black Americans across the United States.