If a “Black” non-voter is approached by a voter who happens to also be black, one of the first criticisms he or she will receive is the famous:
“But Black people died for the right to vote. How could you? Your people lost their lives so that you can be where you are today.”
First of all, contrary to popular belief, this is not truth. Yes, I said it. Black people did not die for the right to vote.
While African Americans did struggle to be part of the political process, we did not die for the right to vote, we died for the right to freedom. We sought to vote because we thought it would lead us to freedom. We thought: If only we could elect our own people, they would go on to fight on our behalf. This was not just in relation to voting, but to everything else as well. And with 15-20 thousand Black elected officials and finally a Black president, the ballot box has long proved us wrong.
Our people didn’t come to the United States for the American Dream. No one voted to bring you here. You were not invited to the Grand Feast. You were brought here as servants: as male and female slaves and sold into captivity. Therefore, this political system was never set up to include you. When the founders of this country signed the Declaration of Independence you were not included. When the constitution was conceived you were not included. In fact, we are the only group of people on the planet named after Continents (i.e. African American) and the only group of people whose nationality changes with the census. African American is not a nationality. It does not have a culture, a language, land, etc; it is the joining of two continents: the continent of Africa and the continent of America. Furthermore, Black is not a nationality, it is a color. White, Black, Red, and so on are colors applied to mankind, they are not nations of people.
Why are you named after continents and colors? Why have you helped to build this country and yet basic human rights escape you? Your right to sit in the front of the bus is not a privilege symbolic of freedom. All it means is the fact that due to civil rights added, or amended, to the constitution you can sit in the front of the bus. It is not a human right it is a civil or social right; an amendment that can be repealed or abolished anytime the U.S. feels like turning you into niggas again. I’m not trying to be negative I’m just being real: stop saying our people died for our right to vote when that is simply not the case. All men created equal is a lie. At the time the constitution was written your people were literally held in chains and shackles by men who were slave owners themselves, and who in turn never fashioned the founding of this country to include you as citizens.
As a result, your people fought to attain the same kind of freedom they saw the rest of the world had that they felt was due them. So if voting meant a change they fought to vote, if sitting in the front of the bus meant a change they sought to resist going to the back, if sitting into restaurants meant a change they sat down, and if freedom rides meant moving closer to freedom they were willing to die for it. This is what black people fought for and have always fought for: Freedom. Before it was The Civil Rights Movement it was The Freedom Movement. Voting was just part of a much more complex journey of black people and their road to Freedom.
Disclaimer. Due the level of controversy and attention of this article, I think it’s important I clarify some things. I am not saying that black people did not lose their lives in the process of attaining certain rights they thought they deserved. What I am highlighting is the deeper meaning behind those deaths. Sure, blacks lost their lives in the process of casting a vote, ordering food from the front of the restaurant, interracial marriage, and so on down the line. However, these deaths were not for these things individually but for one thing: Freedom. Our people fought and died because they thought having these things that they did not have would make them free as a people. However, only the truth can truly set us free as no people without true knowledge of who they are can ever truly be free. A tree without roots is a tree that does not exist.