The best way to demonstrate that #BlackLivesMatter is to cast your vote tomorrow, Tuesday, March 15th. Illinois’ primary election is especially important. It is an opportunity to voice our frustration and dissatisfaction over the decisions made (or not made) by our elected officials, which have had a disproportionately negative impact on our children, families, and communities. Whether its draconian cuts to childcare or the elimination of critical mental health services, African American communities have been undeniably hit the hardest. These cuts have also forced a number of human service organizations (particularly African American managed CBOs) to either substantially scale back their operations or, worse yet, shut down.
Voting tomorrow will also send a message to our elected officials that it is obscene to think that the 70,000+ African American students enrolled in public and community colleges statewide may have their dreams deferred, or altogether wiped out, because of Illinois’ 8-month budget impasse. Moreover, what kind of message are we sending when we say that we want our state to be economically competitive and attract businesses to set up shop while at the same time denying our state’s future workforce with the skills and tools employers demand and that public institutions like Chicago State University competently provide? Fortunately, tomorrow provides us with an opportunity to make our voices heard by electing officials who will move our county, state, and country forward in a direction that prioritizes those issues about which African Americans (and other historically marginalized communities) care about most deeply and yet continue to be grossly unrepresented on: safety, employment, childcare, healthcare, and quality education.
While the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention does not endorse candidates, we are strong advocates of making sure you exercise your franchise. As you prepare to cast your vote, remember the seemingly insurmountable obstacles we have overcome, honor the lives that were sacrificed, and never forget that we still have monumental work to be done to build safe, healthy, and resilient African-American children, families, and communities. It is no secret that elected officials don’t show up for folks that don’t show out at the polls.
Show how much #BlackLivesMatter by exercising your right to vote! #WhatYouDoMatters!!!
Malik S. Nevels, J.D.