Young People Have the Power to Make a Difference in November

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood 

by Reggie Fullwood

One of the most disgusting political comments I have heard in a long time recently came from yet another insensitive “conservative.”

A host on NRATV, whose name is irrelevant in my opinion, took to the airwaves on the evening prior to the Parkland teens-led March on Washington, telling them that “No one would know your names” if the massacre at the school had not happened.

Remember, a gunman stormed into their school and killed three staff members and 14 students. So this unnamed host of an NRA propaganda show is basically telling students that survived a tragic massacre that they are nobodies and only have an audience of followers because their school was shot up. How insensitive it that?

Young people should learn from the NRA’s strategies and attacks. They have power and now it’s time to use it. The total disregard and lack of apathy for these students is appalling. The most unreliable voting block in this nation are young people between the ages 18 to 25, but this is the very group of new voters that could turn Congress upside down if they get out and vote.

How do you get these voters to the polls in November and keep them going back? Well, that’s what many candidates and political strategists have been attempting to figure out for years.

All of us have cousins, friends, neighbors or whomever that just don’t see voting as being an important factor in their lives. Most young people think for today and not tomorrow, or in other words they don’t see the importance of voting and how the people elected to office influence their lives. The Parkland students are at the forefront of change or what could be a shift in how many young people view politics and activism.

This is also a major problem in the African American community. How do we energize young people to get out and vote, and vote on a consistent basis?

Someone once said, “A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight care; but if he has education, he may steal the whole railroad – legally.”

Whether we are talking about the importance of education or the necessity of voting, it is a hard sell to many young inner city youth. Some use their surrounding conditions as motivation to strive for a better life, while some wallow in it and choose a life of crime as a means of getting out of the hood.

The key to motivating youth to get out and participate in the political process will depend on how or if we can motivate and inspire them. Someone once said, “We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have ‘crossed bridges’ in their imagination far ahead of the crowd.”

The message is simple, if you want change to occur in your life, you have to get out and vote, educate yourself and strive to be the best in whatever career path you choose. That’s the beauty of this youth gun law movement. It’s a diverse effort that affects every single American in some way.

And here’s the great thing about voting – it that it doesn’t require money, social status, a degree or fancy clothes. It requires minimal time and the belief that your vote can make a difference.

Minorities, especially blacks need to realize that some people anticipate and expect that you will not vote. Why live up to those negative expectations? James Baldwin once said, “Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is political reality.

It doesn’t make sense to sit around and bash Donald Trump or any other elected official if you are not doing your part. Every vote counts. If you didn’t believe it before the November 2016 elections, you should believe it now. A handful of votes in certain states basically decided who would be the President of the United States.

We have to gradually change young people’s perceptions of voting and politics. And I say “gradually” because an evolution of that magnitude doesn’t easily happen. We have to start investing for our children’s future by not just educating them on the importance of math and reading, but the importance of issues like political involvement and economic independence.

The old saying goes – A hungry man is not a free man. And I am not just talking about food; I am talking about mental freedom gained through education and self-belief. So parents, even if you are not a frequent voter, it is not too late to start, and it is imperative that you teach your children the value of a vote. There’s an old African proverb that says, “He who learns, teaches.”

And since school system is not teaching much Civics anymore, we have to step up to the plate and teach our children importance of voting and the history and struggles associated with the right to vote. The freedom to vote is as powerful as the religious freedoms we all share.

“Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right. … It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of states rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.” —President Lyndon B. Johnson

Signing off from voting precinct 9S, Reggie Fullwood

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