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WRIGHT: My Black vote does not belong to you

Author headshot for Amir Wright
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From white American women to presidential candidates (more often than not), please reread that title. 

Everywhere I look it is “register to vote," whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or even Nike SNKRS. It is the same “Are you registered to vote?” question being asked to me right after I have answered “Yes” to each and every one of these platforms. (I promise you I am not going to want to register to vote on Nike SNKRS right after it hands me another “You didn’t get’em” message after trying to win a pair of sneakers, but I digress.)

My Black vote is not a cheap one or a strategical pawn that should be used as leverage over any other racial group or presidential competition. It is not one to be coveted solely because you had a 73 percent Black voter turnout. For the sake of keeping the chess reference relevant, it is more like the queen of the chess board. 

To white women, the idea of voting is something that I do not particularly need to hear about from your specific group. There have been many plights and hardships fought to get this wonderful opportunity to participate in the presidential election, but the last election shows me that there is a discrepancy in our values, and that the progress made by the ancestors of your demographic would certainly be repealed.

The Los Angeles Lakers great and current day renaissance man Shaquille O’Neal said on Saturday on his “The Big Podcast with Shaq” that he voted for the first time in his 48 years of life this year. Alongside the statement Shaq said, “I might get roasted for this." 

As a Black man, the notion that he might be “roasted” or chastised for him voting for the first time of his nearly 50 years on this earth is blasphemous. But, of course, blasphemous to me is not blasphemous to everyone else, and to white women, this is where we rekindle. 

Over the past few days, overhearing and viewing conversations about a figure as big as Shaq not voting provided me with a look into the privilege of white women.

There were many white women who were baffled about Shaq not having voted before, even bringing up that he had been seen with former President Barack Obama a few times. Then there were others who found a point to joke that someone as rich and privileged as Shaq should have been voting. Both of these conversations were oozing with privilege and arrogance. 

Shaq admitting that he had never voted prior to this election is something that should be taken heed to and approached with neither of the above manners. 

Rationalizing history, Black people had not had the same opportunity to vote as white women until 1965. Although Black men had the right to vote before white women with the 15th Amendment, the opportunity to vote for us was never as open as it was for white women. 

With contextualizing American history, the two sentiments I had seen exacerbated by these white women who had participated in the ridiculing of this Black man's first time voting is something that is completely ignorant and tone-deaf to what we, as a race, had been long behind on the opportunity to participate in. 

In the macro-sense of things, Shaq voting for the first time as a 48 year old is something that professional athletes (specifically in the NBA) have been recently trying to bring to the forefront.

With 20 percent of active NBA players registered to vote as of August 2020, the idea that Shaq voted for the first time in 2020 will be seen as a big stepping stone in the progression of the association as they began their voting initiative this summer. 

This is not a condemnation unto white women as a whole or a critique upon this demographic of the United States, it is just merely a reflection and an insertion of history and insight into the history and psyche of the everyday Black man, a man who has been the butt of many jokes on the behalf of the white race in general. 

Please do your due diligence while reflecting on the words I shared with you readers today, and use them in guiding your conversations and outlook on the biases in which we all hold toward others while making conscious decisions to right these wrongs.

Amir Wright is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in africana studies. His column, "The Black Light," runs on alternate Fridays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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