By: Chris Bowers, @_CJBowers
We are 16 months away from another presidential election; however, the campaign season is nearly in full swing. With over 20 candidates vying to become the next leader of the free world, their words matter as much as our vote matters. Both African-Americans and young adults have been known to make an impact in previous elections. There’s no reason why that will change anytime soon.
A little less than a year ago, we witnessed the birth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement which has garnered much needed national attention. It is another issue that has to be addressed as a serious candidate going forward in this race. We have often heard the response “All Lives Matter” as an inclusionary response to the movement. While that is a basic generalization, it doesn’t acknowledge the issue of systemic inequality that plagues our society. No one has negated the fact that all lives, in fact, matter; however, I don’t believe there is any room to oversimplify a reality that we are facing in this country.
The “Black Lives Matter” movement has been led mostly by African-American women; who represent one of the most impactful voting blocs we have witnessed in recent history. In an article from The Washington Post last year, a report showed black women leading the voter turnout amongst all women. Our race, as a whole, accounts for a considerable percentage of the votes in previous elections as well. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012, 66% of eligible African-Americans reported voting in the presidential election, which was an increase compared to the 2008 election.
Recently, the tragedy of young Sandra Bland in Hempstead, TX adds to the growing list of cases surrounding the movement. As a presidential hopeful, I believe that it is imperative to not only acknowledge, but tackle the hard-pressed concerns of present-day America. This movement of progressive reform consists of multiple races and ages. My fellow millennials of other races have chosen to fight for this cause and seek justice and demand answers from candidates that do not sound like recycled rhetoric.
Our generation is increasingly informed, and willing to speak out when no one else will. I mentioned, previously, that these candidate’s words matter as much as our votes matter; however, it is the words coupled with action that makes an effective leader in any setting. Like any other issue facing Americans, it is a major issue that must be acknowledged with possible solutions, if not then everything else that is said, potentially falls on deaf ears to thousands, if not, millions of voters. The intersection between race, age and gender, especially in the middle of this movement for black life, will play a major role in this upcoming election. It’s just a matter of what role that will be. What is a candidate to do?