The Other Columbus: Don't mothball Black voters this time

Scott Woods

While the threat of insurrection looms over the streets of Washington D.C. today, much of the rest of the country is managing to  breathe a sigh of relief as Democrats appear likely to control not only the White House, but the House and Senate, as well.

That governmental hat trick suggests that the left will be able to push through all manner of centrist legislation, if they have the will. Things look like they’ll be getting back to “normal,” or at least back to the way they were before America installed a racist TV game show host as the leader of the free world.

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Historically, this is the part where Black people get shuffled back into the political deck. Like clockwork, this is where white people start peeling out of discussions about race, while efforts to move the needle on diversity in workplaces and organizations begin to drop away in the face of other priorities. It’s the part where Black people are no longer needed as teachable moments to underwrite endgames, where our bodies aren’t necessary to make certain politicians look bad in time for an election. This is the part where Black voices go back to being a nuisance, a mosquito in the ear of whatever passes for progress in the next couple of years.

At some point (about two years after an administration has been installed) the mothballs will be removed from Black communities once more to grease the wheels of the next election cycle. Black criticism of candidates can be damaging to candidates because when it comes to pointing out what any given branch of government isn’t doing, we’re always right. When Black people tell you that their schools are underfunded, no one debates it. When Black people tell you that their communities are overpoliced, there are excuses, but no good or just reasons. When we say we aren’t represented in public offices, the numbers always hold up. And even in many cases where representation seems clear, Black communities remain largely ignored.

Black voters are great critics, but in the political realm we make better exhibits.

So, now, with our votes counted and our voices listened to, it’s time for the rest of America to get back to the business of making sure the country runs smoothly, and that certain values and agendas are reinstalled into the flow of American life. You know, normal. And as those wheels start getting greased, let’s remind ourselves of what normal was prior to Trump:

-The Black Lives Matter movement was formed prior to Trump.

-Kalief Browder was pre-Trump.

-Ty’re King and Henry Green were pre-Trump.

-Black infant mortality was the highest of all ethnic groups pre-Trump.

-All of the disparities in health care that COVID-19 has highlighted we were telling you about pre-Trump.

-And on and on and on.

Maybe if I say these things out loud now it won’t be such a surprise when Black people bring it up two years from now when America needs us again.

A person casts their vote during Georgia's Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021, in Atlanta. Polls have opened across Georgia in the two runoff elections, pitting incumbents Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) against Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.