The Color of the Ballot

By Todd A. Smith

            Say it ain’t so Tom Joyner.  Do you really believe Blacks should vote for President Barack Obama in 2012, simply because he is Black?

            I clearly understand Joyner’s reasoning for making the absurd comment, but someone who has been a champion for speaking out against racism in America should know that you cannot complain about racism from other races and advocate racism for your people.

            Joyner became extremely upset on his nationally-syndicated radio program, “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” believing that Black Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain could possibly split the Black vote and spell the end of the Obama presidency after only one term.

            Cain will definitely not split the Black vote and judging from his comments on racial issues, he would not have Black America’s best interests at heart.

            Joyner went on to say that he would vote for Obama simply because he is Black and was unashamed at playing the so-called race card.  However, he added that Blacks should vote for Obama because Black America has a better chance to get their issues heard if there is a Black president in the White House, which is true.  President Obama has worked tirelessly on behalf of Black farmers, HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and has opened doors for Blacks to fill Cabinet positions that had never before been filled with a Black American.

            Nevertheless, his assumption that Blacks were not sticking together if they did not vote for Obama was both ignorant and arrogant. 

            The thought of unity in the Black community has been debated for years, but what does that really mean?  Should we all think alike, look alike and like the same things?  In my humble opinion absolutely not, but we should want the same things for the people of our community such as better jobs, education and more opportunities.

            I believe that the way the Black community should unite is to always remember where you come from and when you reach the mountaintop of success, realize that some of your people are still struggling to get out of the valley of despair, and it is extremely important that you help lift as many people as you can out of that valley.

            Others might disagree with my rationale and agree with Joyner and that is OK, but as long as we have the same goals in mind as a community it does not matter if we differ on how to reach those goals. 

            A Black Republican may not vote for Obama because as a business owner, the tax breaks that the Republicans encourage might free up extra money for his/her company and allow him/her to hire more Black workers or offer better health benefits. 

On the other hand, a Black Democrat may be struggling to pay for health care because they were laid off and government subsidized health care will help him/her pay their medical bills, leading him/her to vote for Obama.  The results are the same, but two Black Americans in different positions reached the same goal despite going in different directions to get there.

            When President Obama won the 2008 election I was ecstatic at the fact that the son of a Kenyan student could become president in a country that has a history with racism and ignorance.  Nevertheless, I still weighed the issues and the only issues I agreed with Senator John McCain on was his socially conservative stances of abortion, stem cell research and same sex marriage, so I decided to vote for Obama.

            However, if one is so adamantly against racism and ignorance from one race, it makes them look that more racist and ignorant when the same hate comes from their mouth.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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