By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
One of the staples of American democracy is that whenever Black people vote, White politicians get upset and do all they can to curtail their capacity to do so.
This wrangling that has been going on since President-elect Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 election has been frustrating and troubling, but it is not new. In times past, it has been an emerging voting Black populace, which has incited and inspired White mobs to attack Black people, going so far at times to destroy entire Black communities, according to The Washington Post. In 1922, planes flew over Tulsa, Oklahoma – the city where White mobs had destroyed the Black community of Greenwood – warning Black people not to even try to vote.
Medgar Evers, who served this country in World War II, was confronted by a White mob when he attempted to vote upon returning home, the Constitutional Rights Foundation documented. Evers was murdered by angry Whites who resented his activist work to get Black people to register to vote in 1963, and the home of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer was firebombed by angry Whites in 1965, killing him.
In spite of the battle cry used by Whites of wanting “law and order,” these episodes of violence against Black people for merely exercising – or trying to exercise – their right to vote have seldom resulted in the mobs being held to accountability.
One would think that in the 21st century, White opposition against Black voters would have abated, but this year is pulling the coverlet off the latent resentment that White politicians have against Black people voting – and is also revealing that they know that “the Black vote” is extremely powerful.
The efforts of the current president to disenfranchise Black ballots by targeting cities where large numbers of Black people vote have indicated the width and the breadth of White resentment and fear of Black voters, and the fact that so many of this president’s followers are supporting him in his effort to overturn this election is troubling – but again, not surprising. The White mob mentality that has always been a part of American culture is revealing itself, and though the president’s followers carry and wave American flags, their actions are as anti-American and anti-democracy as they come.
A recent story came out that said Republicans in Georgia are going to be “checking” for fraudulent votes in the upcoming run-off election between Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, but the fact that a run-off election is being held is a reminder that the phenomenon of the run-off election was instituted in Georgia to try to suppress the Black vote, according to the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
The rancid racism of America has been accentuated and spotlighted by the actions and words of the current president and his followers, pushing some of his most ardent supporters to institute martial law in order to force an election “do-over,” the Independent noted. The fact that this action is being called by a retired military man, Michael Flynn, reveals the level of racial animus that exists in this country. How can one fight for “America” but yet support ignoring its Constitution and overturning a perfectly legal election?
The fact that over 70 million voted for the current president means that a huge swath of White people still do not think Black people belong here – at least not as American citizens. The same inclination toward mob violence against Black people who are merely exercising their right to vote exists now as it did when Evers and Dahmer were murdered.
The prayer is that Black people do not retreat or stand down, but instead push forward and exercise the right to vote. We have been fighting for our rights as American citizens since we were brought here. Hopefully, the events that are going on now will not discourage us, but instead push us to continue to aggressively fight against the injustice and the violence that has always attended our participation in this democracy and this economy which we helped build.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Her latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America is available at all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.