by Shanay Watson-Whittaker
Crossposted from www.lafemmenegrita.com
Dear Black America,
Stop trying to seek acceptance and love from a country that does not respect you!
In America, two things are respected – your money and your vote!
Stop reacting at every moment of injustice. In politics and in life, reactionaries almost never win. As long as we are not equal, there will be injustice. In recent history, Black America has reacted to tragedies rather than become proactive and by trying to prevent them from happening. From Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Stanley Jones, to Renisha McBride and now Jordan Davis, many people have loudly discussed boycotting states with “Stand Your Ground” laws rather than taking a pro-active approach by voting out the elected officials who supported it and getting the law repealed. This is why we are losing our ground.
This law is a part of a greater agenda by the American Legislative Exchange Council meant to suppress your vote, take away democracy, and reverse laws that benefited every American and create laws that favor the one percent – or the richest Americans.
One of my favorite quotes is “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will,” - Frederick Douglass.
We can start demanding our equal rights by stop asking America what our lives are worth and start empowering ourselves through education, finance and political power. Honestly, the last time America valued a Black life, was on the auction block!
What Black America does have is spending power. In November’s issue of Black Enterprise Magazine, Black America has $1.1 TRILLION dollars in spending power. That money can be leveraged by supporting Black-owned businesses, meaningful Black charities, organizing our communities to vote, and by financially supporting political candidates that back an agenda to prevent tragedies from happening like this again.
Black America, asking the people to respect you when they create laws meant to abuse you, is useless. Respect is earned and it starts by us respecting our money and using our vote as leverage for equality! In Florida, one out of five African Americans cannot vote because they have a felony on their record. This obstacle was created to stop Black Americans and Latinos from voting. You want to know why Florida “Stand Your Ground Laws” exists? Because, populations who would be adversely affected by it, Blacks and Latinos did not vote during off year elections. According to the Southern Political Report, “In Florida, however, despite the presence of African-American Kendrick Meek on the ballot as the Democratic US Senate nominee, black turnout declined from 14 percent of turnout in 2006 to 11 percent in 2010.” Blacks in Florida did not vote! The 2010 election resulted in redistricting that favored the Republican Party and their supporters.
Looking back at the Jordan Davis case and the Trayvon Martin case, the Prosecutor, Angela Corey never introduced race as a factor in both cases when both cases were clearly about race. The prosecutor purposely chose not talk about race because she believed that neither majority white juries would be sympathetic to Black victims. Basically, Prosecutor Corey’s office conceded that White Floridians cannot relate to Black victims. Although, this is the same prosecutor who bent over backwards to make sure Marissa Alexander – a Black woman would spend years in prison for firing a warning shot against an abusive spouse and she was found guilty and then sentenced to 20 years in prison. This jury had one African American on a six-panel jury.
So Black America, stop begging to be loved by America: puppies beg for love people do not. Focus on loving yourself and your community. We need to get back to basics by using our economic and political power as leverage to get what we want and that is “equal treatment under the law.” It’s up to us to make that demand for power and back it up with action with money and votes.
Shanay Watson-Whittaker is a Democratic activist and organizer. She was the former Chair of the Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus. Shanay is the owner of an Ebay store called Shay’s Chic Boutique, she is a motivational speaker, a blogger at La Femme Negrita and a genealogy enthusiast. She lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, Ken and their six kids. You can follow Shanay on Twitter as LaFemme_Negrita and you can reach her at [email protected].
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