Writer’s Name: S.F. Hardy
Title: Freedom Cost: Small Price to Pay
Everybody wants freedom but nobody wants to pay for it. Nothing in life is free. That said, freedom comes at the cost of courage, patience, unity and compassion for life, but most importantly, sacrifice.
Although emancipated less than 200 years ago there are those who believe that there are no remnants of slavery to affect the people of today. Then of course, there are others who argue otherwise.
The fight for freedom did not end with the emancipation as those formerly enslaved and their descendants faced Reconstruction, Sharecropping, Chain Gangs, and Segregation. Today bondage is felt in the form of the substance abuse, credit debt, the sex trade and the Prison Industrial Complex, just to name a few.
One area of concern regarding African-Americans as it relates to freedom is the community’s skepticism to vote. In such a short time, many African-Americans have become frustrated with the entire political process. Many of us have lost faith and have thrown our hands up conceding our rights. The loss of belief in the system has impeded numerous African-Americans from participating in the election, leading to the loss of what was once a strong voice. Voter turnout during primary elections in Detroit is sadly scarce. Before the state primary held in February 2012 CBS reported, “…Detroit will see a voter turnout of 10 percent to 12 percent…” For the obstacles endured by the citizens of Detroit 20% is considerably low. How can we justly complain about what ails the city if we are not using the tools we have to combat them?!
As a result of recent local and upcoming presidential elections the media inundates the people with the back and forth political banters between the political parties, particularly democratic and republican. Many of the issues argued in the campaign commercials resonate to the people as smokescreens, hiding the real issues that affect the citizens of this country; making it difficult for everyday people to know who to trust, easily turning people off, eliminating themselves from the election process altogether.
Another reason why I think a large population within the African-American community does not vote is because they are under the impression they cannot when they actually can. In Michigan, those incarcerated awaiting trial (have not been convicted) have the right to vote. Although those who have been convicted, sentenced and serving time during election periods cannot vote, once they are released their voting rights are automatically reinstated. It is just a matter of visiting the Secretary of State and singing up for their voter registration.
Based on my own empirical research, I believe we have become complacent and appeased with the small strides gained. More emphasis is placed on material gain and as long as many of us are able to dress to the nines and purchase luxury vehicles we will remain content with the current conditions.
Although many of the issues stated affect the African-American community disproportionately we have a difficult time believing in the political system. Maybe it is a lack of understanding or genuine belief our voice is not heard or a combination of the two. However, there is power in numbers and if we put forth the effort to show that we won’t be ignored and are aware of the rights we posses, we can’t help but to advance in any realm. But if we take on pessimistic attitudes as we are appeased by the material gain put before us, we will no doubt lose the rights that our predecessors fought so hard for us to have.
It is my staunch belief that my generation is complacent because we haven’t had to fight for anything. We were born into opportunity and advantages so we have been removed from the struggles that took place in the past. Some of us were fortunate enough to be educated by their families and few educational systems, but most of us are unaware. Sadly as a result we don’t fully appreciate equality and don’t realize that we are still in bondage of the mind. Sure, we can drink from the same water fountain as other ethnic groups, but we turn our nose up at others riding the bus, we act a fool in school, and tease those of us who take education serious, labeling them “acting white.” I’m starting to feel that in order for people to appreciate the freedoms we continue to maintain, we will have to hit rock bottom.
Like in the days past, voter suppression tactics are being used to make it complex for voters. This to me speaks volumes. If our vote did not count, tactics to repress the vote would not be employed. Let us take note from the outcry that took place in Egypt. Organizers used Facebook to rally the people. People repressed any fear to demonstrate against what oppressed them. There is no reason why the voting polls should be less than crowded when time to vote.
Although seemingly requiring voters to take valid identification to the polls may be a small price to pay in order to vote, the implications and those who will be disenfranchised with this process is a greater price to pay.
We must keep our fore founders, who were spit on, attacked by dogs, water hosed, beaten, lost their jobs, homes and lives all in the name of fighting for the right to vote in our minds when it is time to vote. Even if we don’t believe in the process, we must not let those who made the path for us efforts go in vein. Freedom is not free and the fight to maintain it will be on going. No matter what your beliefs are, what party and ideologies you support, exercise your right to keep freedom alive by voting.