Yusef Mgeni

Yusef Mgeni

Voting is one of the most important options we have to secure the policy changes that will make it possible for the truth to come out in all its ugliness and gore regarding the true history of this country and its treatment of our stolen and enslaved ancestors.  Shirlynn LaChapelle

As we come out of the dark clouds of a deadly pandemic where three-quarters of a million Americans have perished, and witness a divided country that showed its true colors on January 6, take the time to look at the disparities that persist.

It is paradoxical that a state that ranks among the very best in overall quality of life at the same time ranks among the very worse in racial and ethnic disparities. It’s a tale of two Minnesotas, one white and one Black.

Egregious racial disparities statistics were unveiled in a report entitled, The Twin Cities Economic Inclusion Plan, researched and prepared by the Twin Cities NAACP, in 2020. It revealed the cycle of complacency and inaction that have left racial inequality unchecked. 

The facts:

The Black poverty rate in the Twin Cities was 25.5% - five times higher than the rate for white residents.

In 2017 the median household income for whites living in the Twin Cities was $82,371, compared to $39,851 for African American households, just 48% of white household income.

Among children under the age of 18, the child poverty rate was 33.1%, 8.5 times higher for Black children in the Twin Cities than the 3.9% for the city’s young white residents

African American students accounted for 76% of suspensions despite only being 36% of the student body population in 2017.  White students comprise 34% of the student body but only 7% of the district’s suspension.  

About 22% of African American residents in the Twin Cities own their homes compared to 76.8% of whites. 

How long will these inequalities be okay?  When will citizens of Minnesota, especially in the American Descendant of Slavery (ADOS) communities, recognize that if we don’t vote, there will be no progress and another generation will be lost?  Will we deny ourselves the inalienable right to a share of America’s treasury of resources and opportunities? 

Why is voting in the November 2nd municipal elections so important and more critical than ever before, following the globally televised George Floyd execution? 

  • We have a responsibility to our families, to ourselves, and to the future generations of our children and community. 
  • Our forbearers laid down their lives and made immeasurable sacrifices to guarantee our right to vote.  We must honor their legacy and their investment in us and in our future.
  • Apathy is interpreted as acceptance.  If you don’t vote—you don’t matter!
  • Your vote is your voice.  Be informed and use it proudly.
  • By voting, we contribute to the public dialogue, political possibilities, and help identify who will write the laws and determine public policy.  If we don’t vote, our future will be defined for us by men and women who may not have our best interests at heart.
  • We should vote because it is our right, because it is our duty, and our power.
  • We should vote for what we are for rather than simply for what we are against.

“If we don’t vote in numbers the likes of which we’ve never seen before, we are headed on a course of serious destruction,” says Martin Luther King III.  “I’m going to do all I can to encourage, promote, and mobilize voters.  What is at stake is the future of our nation, our planet, and our children.”

Voting Rights and Suppression:

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 is legislation that has been proposed in the House of Representatives that would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain portions of which were struck down by two United States Supreme Court decisions of Shelby County v. Holder and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee.

This past week, a vote was taken in the U.S. Senate on whether or not to even have a ‘discussion’ on voting rights.  Not a single Republican U.S. Senator voted in favor of having the discussion; blocking the idea, mind you, of considering any proposed voting rights legislation at all.  Why is this important?  According to a new tally by the Brennan Center for Justice, lawmakers in all but three states have introduced 498 proposed bills aimed at restricting ballot access.

Minnesota is not one of those states because Gov. Tim Walz has threatened to veto any such legislation which comes across his desk.  This may very well not be the case for future administrations in Minnesota or if the composition of the State Legislature should change significantly.

Senator Angus King, (Independent, Maine) said he believes, “voter suppression in the United States is the greatest threat to democracy in our country since 1860, and we could begin to feel the impact as early as next year.”

Many say they believe conservatives have stolen the last two Supreme Court seats – resulting in conservative justices now enjoying a 6-3 majority.

Two recent books spell out the 30 year plan by conservatives to regain ultimate control of the political process in our country. “Democracy in Chains” by Nancy MacLean, is an expose of the Right's campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, and change the Constitution. “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer reveals the hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right.

African Americans cannot afford not to vote, and we must cast our ballots for representatives who have our communities’ best interests at heart and with intentionality of breaking the historic racist oppression and corruption. 

 Every fight will not be won, but if we don’t make the effort, our people will most certainly lose. With deliberate acts of voter suppression and virulent disinformation initiatives afoot, democracy is dangerously at risk. Full voter participation is a necessity.  It’s like Dr. King always preached, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that really matter.” 

We have a right to vote.  The results will be determined by those of us who show up. What matters is that you are alive to read “Insight News”. What matters is that we are breathing normally and not hooked up to a ventilator in a scary hospital room somewhere. 

Just a side note - By the mid-1980s, seven vaccines were available: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. Because six of these vaccines were combined into two shots (DTP and MMR), and one, the polio vaccine, was given by mouth, children received five shots by the time they were 2 years old, and not more than one shot at a single visit.  Our parents did not distrust medical science. And we are living seventy plus years later free of those pandemic borne illnesses. That many of the diseases were eradicated in time is a testament to the efficacy of science based vaccine deployment and adoption by a government and a people working together for the common good.

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