By Shedrick Byrd
Like many other voters, I believe Hilary Clinton is the most level headed, most experienced and best qualified candidate between her and Donald Trump to be President. But she needs a heavy turnout of Black voters to win. We know she is campaigning in black neighborhoods telling voters how much she loves them and we know her husband Bill Clinton was referred to as the first Black President. But we should not be blindsided by knowing those things and not making demands on her to change policies that negatively affect black people.
She goes to black churches where she worships with members and asks for their votes. She solicits black pastors to sing her praises and walks through black communities to show that she cares. That’s all good but that’s “old-school” politics in the black communities. In the past black voters expected the rhetoric and listened to politicians express their love for the voters. They promised redemption of the black community but after the election very little was done. They have played on our religion and have had black Pastors to guide them through black churches and neighborhoods. They may give the Pastors a few dollars from their campaign funds to update or install new pews in their church and/or a few dollars of pocket change for their work. But the rest of the black voters get nothing. After the election if the candidate wins, the black voters are once again forgotten until the next campaign.
Since the black vote is so crucial to the election this year, we must demand some specific commitments. Clinton, if she plans to win, must make some commitments and be made accountable to the black voters to deal with the concerns of black citizens in order to get our votes. The Congressional Black Caucus should be in the forefront of presenting these issues and serving as the watchdog to insure that she does, in fact, address issues germane to black people once she is elected. Local black politicians should be the conduit to the Congressional Black Caucus. Voters cannot depend totally on black politicians carrying out our demands therefore we must keep up the heat even after the election.
Some of the major issues that should be placed on her agenda include the restoration of the Voting Rights Act. There must be an all-out review and elimination of all policies that were written to negatively affect black people. Changes must be made in the judicial system that unfairly judges and incarcerates blacks for minor non-violent crimes. The penal system should be urged to establish a rehabilitation program that restores or conditions individuals to reduce recidivism and increase their likelihood of an improved quality of life. I’m sure there are many more.
Let’s not get so excited that Clinton will be the first female president until we make no demands on her for our votes. Let’s get smart and active to make sure our votes count for our farther progress and well-being. Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide