I’m a member of a Black Greek Letter sorority. In my chapter of this sorority, I am the vice-chair of the political committee. As the vice chair, I’m supposed to keep the members abreast of things they should know about when it comes to politics and connect them with meetings, local and state politicians, elections, conferences, etc. Yesterday, the president of my chapter requested that I write a short blurb about why our chapter members should get involved with the political process. LAWD! LAWD! LAWD!! I love to write but this is not the kind of writing assignment that I strive to do. I’m a health writer. I encourage folks to eat apples and use condoms. To be honest, I don’t care for politics at all. I grew up around it in DC and I have had my fill. So why am I in charge of this political committee?? Because nobody else wanted to do it and I have a reputation in my chapter for being rather ‘vocal’ at times. My dilemma is how to broach this delicate topic and get these ladies motivated to get involved in the political process. There are a couple of ways to do this I think.
The “African-American Women have power” approach. I could explain that African-American women are more omnipotent than ever before. We are more educated, have higher incomes, and are running households and corporations all over America. That’s pretty empowering I guess. In fact, during the 2008 election Black women voters had the highest turnout among all racial, ethnic and gender groups with 68.8 percent. The trouble with that is many of us are so busy ruling the world that we don’t take the time to see that the right political connections can make our lives that much easier.
The numbers approach. I could tell them that the US Census Bureau reported two million more African-Americans voted in the 2008 elections than in 2004 (gee I wonder why). I could explain that in 2008 about 49% of voters ages 18 to 24 cast ballots which was up from 47% in 2004. And that the turnout among young black voters was 55%, eight percentage points higher than four years earlier. I could add that turnout among blacks, Hispanics and Asians increased by four percentage points in 2008 from four years earlier, while turnout by white non-Hispanics was down by one percentage point. I could push the whole young-people-could-do better-in-the-polls thing by showing that fewer than half of 18-24 year-olds who are registered said they went to the polls, and 42% said they aren’t even registered. By comparison, turnout was 69% among voters aged 45 to 64 and 72% among voters 65 to 74. Trouble with that is some people tune numbers out and really don’t care what others do.
The War On Women approach. This phrase is so hot right now. Since we all have breasts and uteri we should ban together. I could appeal to their estrogen. Ahem…ladies…. the men are coming after our wombs and we must protect them. Romney and Ryan want to limit our choices. Ryan has already shown that he is anti-abortion and he voted to defund Planned Parenthood. He also voted against the Lily Ledbtter Fair Pay act and Romney has taken no position on it (which is a cop out but that’s my opinion). Trouble is many of us (not just Black women but women in general) don’t see any war on women and feel like as long as we have a job, decent health care and feel healthy, we’ll be just fine.
The Civil Rights/Race War approach. I grew up with a father in my household who was reared in the segregated South during the 1950’s and 60’s. So I have heard many a story about how far my people have come in fighting for equality. I get why we should take full advantage of the chance to vote. All that effort would be in vain if I don’t vote and it would be a huge disappointment to my father, mother, and grandparents who worked tirelessly to change the world for me. Also, there’s a race war of sorts going on with this election. The hints of racism are actually not hints at all but outright attacks (food stamp president, doesn’t represent ‘our’ values, etc…Oh Chris Matthews pointed these out so clearly on Morning Joe. Click here if you didn’t see it. I was laughing up a storm.) We must stick together, fight back and support the first African-American president or suffer dire consequences. Trouble is I don’t personally support President Obama because he’s Black (although it helps. I won’t lie about that). I support him because he earned my vote just like Bill Clinton and Al Gore did. If Obama said he was pro-life and didn’t care about equal pay for women I swear he would not get my vote. End of story. Also, I don’t want to add to the stigma that just because a white person doesn’t support Obama that he/she must be a racist. I don’t think that’s true for every white person. They may simply not agree with some of his policies. So be it.
Clearly there is no one size fits all approach to this write up. And she wants it in two days which adds to my stress. I fear that I will go too far with all this politics talk and the ladies will suffer from message fatigue. They’re already getting it from other ends of their lives, what more can I say? Maybe I should go with the absence approach. Leave it up to the chair of the committee to handle and pretend that I didn’t see that email in the first place. LOLOLOLOLOL!!! That might work.
As I look this post over I’m thinking that for a woman who doesn’t care for politics I sure do have a lot to say.