Why the BLM Movement Can’t End Here

The nation will always remember May 25, 2020. The cries for justice couldn’t be ignored, and echoes for reform filled every corner. 

If you opened Instagram, you saw petitions, hashtags and lists of Black-owned businesses. If you jumped on Netflix, you saw a section labeled “More Than A Moment” aimed at drawing attention to the Black experience. If you researched local protests, you found some within driving distance.

The chants against racism were loud because George Floyd served as another example as to why our nation needs to do better. However, reflecting on the past few weeks, the loud uproar of awareness has settled into a whisper. 

What happened to the feverous passion aimed for change?  

The drive for justice cannot end with black squares, marches and films. This is a movement, meaning we must continue to push for development until we are where we need to be.

This is where voting comes in.

How Voting Keeps The Movement Alive

Former President Obama published an essay in support of the peaceful protests. He emphasized the need to vote by saying, “…aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”

When we vote, we have a say in who we want our leaders to be. This is important because we give these leaders the power to determine the trajectory of our country through policy-making. If we want to reignite the passion and emotion we had, we must utilize our power come November. This is because voting equals change. 

Black Lives Matter movement leaders understand this and have begun #WhatMatters2020. It’s a campaign that aims to bring BLM supporters and allies out to the polls for the upcoming election. The organization hopes to “build collective power and ensure candidates are held accountable for the issues that systematically and disproportionately impact Black and under-served communities across the nation,” according to the BLM website.

Does Voting Even Matter?

But how do we know our votes even matters? We can look at the 2016 election for reference.

Kevin Drakulich, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern University, said the BLM movement affected the 2016 election on both sides. Those for and against the movement showed up to the polls with specific agendas: many voters looked to the candidates’ views on civil rights to determine their votes. 

The 2020 election will not be all that different. With the BLM movement raising the issue of racial equality, we will see the same matters from 2016 garnering importance yet again. The 2020 election will also mirror the 2016 election because there are still people on both sides of the fight. Because of this, it should be understood that each vote will sway the pendulum one way or another. 

Our votes are also vital to the bettering of our nation because without them, change can not occur.

Voting By The Numbers

I want to now focus the conversation on America’s youth. Many young people took on the responsibilities of the BLM Movement during the initial weeks. If you scroll through social media, they are the ones still pushing for reform. However, the young people are the same individuals that need to show up to the polls if they want to see reform.

Looking at the numbers from the 2016 election, there was about a 50 percent voter turnout for those ages 18-29. This is not something to cheer about — especially when the young people are the ones paving the way in the current social media campaign. While half of them showed up for the last election, the other half chose to sit back and watch.

This reality is not just reserved for America’s youth. It also pertains to those who don’t vote in general. Looking at the 2016 statistics for the general population, a total of 138 million Americans voted in 2016. That only makes up 58.1% of our voting-eligible population.

Perhaps people don’t feel educated on the issues and candidates. Maybe individuals don’t think their vote will have an impact. But we can’t make noise, not vote and expect a problem to fix itself. We must show up.  

Showing up is voting, and voting is more than checking a box. It requires time, learning and determination. 

If you feel passionate about the current injustices, then don’t let your efforts end here. Don’t let your ardor have been for nothing and don’t lose your drive come November. Remember: voting equals change.

Below are some resources to maximize your voice:

Rock the Vote

A one-stop-shop for all your voting needs.

Register to Vote

An easy online form.

Voter Registration Deadlines

A way to know your state’s deadlines. 

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