Vote Black, no matter what?

I do not believe that Black voters should vote for someone just because they are Black. The danger with doing this is that it will [and does] encourage those who do not have any interest in benefiting Black people to use figureheads to bait Black voters into voting against their personal/collective best interests. I do not want to see such a thing happen.

Some Black Maryland Democrats are coming out in support of Republican Senate Candidate Michael Steele. This is the latest installment in the ongoing debate over which party best represents Black voters (not people, voters. If you don’t vote, you get ignored).

Republicans, over the last 4 years especially, have been courting Black voters, saying, “what have the Democrats really done for you? Don’t you feel like they take our vote(s) for granted?” These are valid questions that must be asked of every individual voter and every ‘block’ of voters (Latino, female, homosexual, single parents, entrepreneurs, etc.). The answers to these questions and other related ones are important points of introspection for individuals and collective bodies. What is interesting here is that is that these questions are posed by Republicans with the implicit assumption that “if you vote Republican, we won’t take you for granted.” I see little evidence to support such a notion.

Black voters have been relatively consistent supporters of the Democratic voters for the last 50 or so years. Why is that? I’d argue that the phenomenon started with Democratic Party actions such as Franklin Roosevelt and The New Deal, Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Movement, Affirmative Action, and other things.

I think that the debate on who to vote for should be based on an issue-by-issue, candidate-by-candidate, track-record-by-track-record comparison. A person the same race as you, the same gender as you, the same age as you, or the same sexual orientation as you does not mean that the person will best represent you or have your best interest in mind when they represent you as your governmental spokesperson.

Here’s a quote from the end of the article (my emphasis added):

“[Prince George’s council member David Harrington (D-Cheverly)] Harrington said race is a factor for him. ‘It’s not the factor,’ he said, ‘but it is a factor. There needs to be a diversity of voices in the room.'”

I agree that a “diversity of voices” needs to be present in all situations. However, we need to be clear that race is not the only axis that diversity spins on. There are a whole lot of other things that mark diversity:
– Race
– Age
– Gender
– Religion
– Ethnicity
– Country of Origin
– Class
– etc.

When we think of diversity, we need to look beyond physical appearances. We need to be careful about who we trust, and not give people “like us” a free pass. I think Michael Steele is a nice enough guy, but I would not support or vote for him if he was running in my state.

I encourage people to look at candidates as individuals, their track records, and their plans for the future when deciding who to vote for. Take into account more than one issue, be it race, abortion, or what ever, when deciding who should represent you. Don’t vote for someone just because they are Black.

Perhaps a way to judge if someone will represent Black people well could be to get their take on these?

One Love. One II.

Black Issues


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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