11.02.2010

Barbershop Politics: The Uninspired Black Voter


It has been a gloomy weather day in Houston. Some might say this is a “sign” of what is to come when the final votes have been tallied during the mid-term elections.

We’ve watched President Barack Obama the past month go from being the Commander-in-Chief to the “Campaigner-in-Chief”, according to political pundits. This also includes the First Lady Michelle Obama, whose mesmerizing ability to communicate to the ordinary American was called upon.

Will it be enough? Will the Republicans reclaim the political throne? Will the Democrats hold on despite, according to some, sitting on their hands the last two years? Do you even care? What about Black people in America?

The other day I was in a local Black-owned barbershop and I walked right into a political debate over the purpose of Blacks casting their vote. Great Houston spoken word artist Equality once referred to the barbershop as the Black man’s Country Club where millions of sermons are being preached simultaneously every Saturday morning.

This particular morning, politics was on the table.

It was getting heated as one barber said “We as Black people need to vote because our people gave their lives for us to have the right to vote. Show your gratitude. Even if you don’t like anyone on the ballot, voting straight Democrat is better than nothing.”

Uproar took over the shop as a younger Black male, awaiting his turn for a haircut, shouted “Man, that’s a lie. Black people didn’t GIVE their lives for us to have the right to vote. White folks TOOK our lives and then gave us whatever rights they wanted us to have.

A chorus of “Dang”, “Wow”, and “That’s right” came across the shop.

The young man continued, “And I don’t think our ancestors wants us to vote just to be voting especially when these political fools only care about Blacks when it is time to win an election. We’re being exploited and used as pawns. I’m not voting!”

The barber responded by saying, “Son, you have a lot to learn. We’ve been through a lot as a people and your vote is important. We came together in 2008 to get the first ever Black President of the United States. We can’t leave him hanging now.

(Photo courtesy of White House Flickr)

The young man responded, “Why not? Obama has left Black people hanging but wants us to bail out these weak Democrats with our vote. Yet we can’t even get him to address any Black issues. I’m not saying he hasn’t done something good so far but come on. The Black vote is not respected.”

The shop got quiet. …Another barber turned up ESPN Sports Center on the television and that was the end of the conversation.

Read the full blog I wrote on the Houston Chronicle's Houston Belief.com @ Barbershop Politics: The Uninspired Black Voter


(You're welcome to follow Brother Jesse Muhammad on Twitter, "LIKE" his Facebook page, or visit his award-winning site Brother Jesse Blog)