2000-10-28 / Columnists

From The G-Man: Black Youth: Take Nothing For Granted

By Gary Toms

From The G-Man:
Black Youth: Take Nothing For Granted

Hey people! We’ve got a little over a week before the presidential election, and it is my sincere hope that many will go to the polls in record numbers. Some will stay home in protest of the political process, or candidates, and a large percentage of them will be the younger members of the Black community. This cannot happen.

Over the years statistics have shown that Black men, and women, in the age range of 18-24, are not exercising their right to vote. One of the reasons is because, unfortunately, so many of these kids stray down the wrong path, and they end up with criminal records. As a result, they lose their voting privileges and the right to challenge the system.

Another reason why Black folks are in this position is because some of us just don’t care about the system enough to get involved. These are the same people who complain, day in and day out, about how the government is apathetic toward their concerns and needs. However, when you ask them to go with you to the polls, they’d rather stay home and watch "Wheel of Fortune".

The excuses for not voting have become commonplace. "My vote is not going to change the system." "I don’t like the candidates." "They are all a bunch of liars." "Those old white folks don’t give a damn about Black people!" It seems as though I’ve heard them all, but these reasons have never been good enough for me to feel

that I should not go out and vote. History, African-American in particular, played major role in getting me involved with the voting process. That is the biggest difference between myself and so many of the young "brothers and "sisters" out there. Many, but not all, have no knowledge of their history and culture, and I believe both should be embraced. Many of these kids have chosen to replace "Martin", "Malcolm"

and "Medgar", with ignorant celebrities, from hip-hop, film and sports, who forgot where they came from, and who they left behind, once they found success. Somehow, we must get back to our sense of history, pride and self-respect.

I was lucky enough to be slapped into consciousness when I was in college. I read many books, and saw many films, about the African-American struggle in this country. Each of these things had a profound impact on my life, but nothing had more impact than two photos that the instructor showed during one of his classes. In one photo, there were about 100 people, all white, and they were in a party-like atmosphere. There were men, women and even a few children scattered about the crowd. The smiles were plentiful, and laughter appeared to be in abundance. As you looked more closely at the photo, a tree could be seen in the background, and the grotesque, and mangled, body of a Black man was hanging from it. These people murdered him because they found out he was registering Blacks to vote!

In another photo, a group of Klansmen are lighting up cigars and smiling like the Cheshire Cat from "Alice in Wonderland." At their feet, lies the smoldering and charred body of a Black man atop burning wood. They also caught him attempting to get Black people to register and vote.

I know these images will make some of my Caucasian readers very uncomfortable, but I want you to understand that this isn’t about you or shoving America’s ugly past down your throats. Those who are truly conscious, and honest, about Black and white relations in this country will understand. This is about trying to wake up the Black youth, and I am willing to reveal the ugly truth, and risk losing readers, if it will make them get their asses into a voting booth, plain and simple!

I want teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, dogs and cats to encourage their loved ones, or someone they know, to go out and vote on November 7. Too much ancestral blood, and tears, has been shed to get us to this point.

Listen to me my younger "brothers" and "sisters". If you do not take part in the presidential, senatorial or any other major election, you will be defecating on the graves, and struggles, of those who paved the way so that we could have this right. Moreover, your

ancestors made it possible for you not to have to endure any of the following: Entering a hotel through the back entrance; drinking from fountains labeled "white" and "colored"; avoiding contact between the races; attending separate but equal schools and facilities; enlisting in segregated military branches; being denied access to a "white emergency room"; being dragged from your bed, in the middle of the night, to be lynched; being raped, at will, by members of the Klan; Jim Crow laws and the judicial system; being shot, or worse, for looking at a white woman; and being beaten on a daily basis, and it didn’t matter if you were 8 or 80.

I could go on and on. Black youth, look at how much suffering and pain was endured to give you this opportunity. Please make the most of it, and start giving back to those who left you the legacy. You owe it to them. Take nothing for granted. Please, go out and vote!

A special shout out to a wonderful example of the Black youth, Ricky Richardson. The New York Post ran a feature on him, on October 24, for his amazing athletic ability. The Beach Channel High School junior tailback racked up 311 yards, and three touchdowns, on 21 carries, in a recent game! I’ve dubbed him "Slick Rick" because he just slips off tacklers. They should pump MC Hammer’s "You Can’t Touch This" whenever this guy scores. Your future looks bright, and the G-man is immensely proud of you. Keep up the great work,

on and off the field.

Take care, and I’ll see you next week!

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