Blacks can send a message on Election Day
By Clarence McKee
“How’s it goin’?” I asked my barber as I sat back in the chair.
“I’ll be glad when this damn election is over,” he said.
“Who’re you voting for — Obama I bet,” I said.
“Neither one — even though I’m a Democrat and voted for Obama.”
“So what’s the problem?” I asked.
“Look around this shop man,” he said pointing to three empty barber chairs.
“Four to five years ago all of these chairs would be filled. Now, it is rare to have even two busy. I even had to let one of my barbers go. Black folk are hurtin.’ Instead of getting a haircut every two to three weeks, some are delaying it to once a month or longer. And the tips brother — instead of three bucks, I’m lucky to get just one. I have many customers who are out of work. The lucky ones have a job. Obama may be Black, but as far as I am concerned, the green in my cash register is more important than his skin color.”
“How about Romney?” I queried.
“Why should I vote for the Republicans when they don’t want my vote and try to keep me from voting by restricting early voting while they cater to Hispanics, gays, and Jews?”
He stopped trimming my hair, reached for the paper behind the chair and said “look at this.” He pointed to two headlines: “Paul Ryan courts Cuban-Americans on South Florida campaign swing;” and, “Once again, focus is on Jewish voters in Florida.”
“So whose fault is that?” I asked, reminding him of a recent poll showing that only 4 percent of Blacks supported Romney in Florida while 43 percent of Hispanics did.
“Why waste money on a group that gives your opponent 95 percent of their vote? Aren’t we irrelevant, given those numbers? We made our own political bed so why complain when we have to sleep in it? If we polled at even 10-15 percent for Romney or more like Hispanics and Jews, we would be courted like they are,” I argued.
“Because I am an American, too — that’s why,” he said raising his voice. “You’d think that ‘every vote counts’ doesn’t apply to us. Besides, why not reach out and try to get even 10 percent? In a close election that could be decisive. Just look at Jeb Bush. I voted for him twice because he reached out and showed he cared. Two years ago, Rick Scott and his Black running mate Jennifer Carroll got 6 percent of the Black vote in a real squeaker. I voted for Scott because of Carroll as did many of my customers. Every vote counted!”
“Forget about Romney for a second. What do you believe in?” I asked.
“Last week my pastor said in our prayer group that Obama caters to everyone except Blacks. He gave kids of illegals a free pass for work permits when pastor’s 18-year-old nephew can’t get a job; supports Adam marrying Steve not Eve; has no problem with Black babies being aborted on a whim and has not used his bully pulpit to condemn bad behavior like boys with hats on backwards and pants down below their butts. Even worse, none of these Black leaders are holding his feet to the fire like they would if he were white.”
“So what’s the problem?” I asked again.
“Did you see the conventions? The Republicans’ was whiter than Uncle Ben’s rice and the Democrats want me to pay for birth control pills and abortions!”
“So what are you going to do?” I pushed again.
“Well, I really don’t know. I might take a pass on this one.” He responded.
“Wait a minute! I said. “After all of this talk about being taken for granted by Democrats and ignored by Republicans; your business suffering; and, the prayer group, you may not vote?”
“My mother always told me only a fool goes where he’s not wanted and never let anyone take you for granted.” He shot back.
“You poor thing” I said sarcastically. “The Republicans don’t want to take you to the dance and Obama won’t dance with you.” So pick up your voting rights and go stay home? I asked.
“Are you forgetting you live and work here in Florida? You are a few blocks from a highway called ‘Dixie;’ close to a city called ‘Plantation;’ a few hours’ drive from the ‘Suwanee River;’ in a former slave state where cops often worked with the Ku Klux Klan to keep blacks from exercising their rights; where NAACP President Harry T. Moore, and his wife, Harriett, were murdered because of their civil rights work; and, where your vote helped elect the first Black female Lt. Governor in Florida history — and you’re telling me you may not vote? That’s a cop out.”
“Do you think the tea party cares whether or not the Republicans or Democrats want them or whether there are 8 or 14 days of early voting — they vote! How many damn days do you need anyway?
“Send them a message — you can at least go vote for state and local candidates!” I said getting out of the chair.
“You’ve got a point” he said with a smile.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns, including Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation. He was also appointed chairman of the District of Columbia Reagan-Bush Campaign and he chaired the District of Columbia Delegation to the Republican National Convention in Dallas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee