Stay Woke and Vote
By Mr. Chinelo Tyler, Connectional YPD President
In 2008, there was the most diverse electorate ever which led to the election of President Barack Obama. Since then, states have passed laws making it difficult for some people—particularly those of color—to exercise their fundamental right to vote. These restrictions include limiting early voting, passing voter ID laws, and purging voter rolls. The desired outcome to this problem of voter suppression is the advancement of voting rights and the repeal of laws that have made it difficult for minority groups to practice the intrinsic right to vote. In 2008, political players realized that a diverse electorate insisted upon a level playing field and immediately began working to deconstruct the Voting Rights Act.
The 5.6 million voters in the 12 states that currently have voter suppression laws must enlist change agents such as the American Civil Liberties Union, minorities, as well as American citizens, who truly believe in the integrity of our American creed. They must stand up, speak out, protest, and repeal such laws that contribute to the oppression of minorities in America.
It’s especially interesting to look at the issue of voter suppression from a biblical perspective. Examples of this specific problem are conveyed in the Hebrew text. In 1 Samuel 16:1-3, the attempt to influence a decision that involves the election of leadership is made relevant to the text. Samuel, the prophet who God instructed to anoint Daniel as king, was well influenced by the legal corpora (policy) of Saul. Saul’s policy was to limit the inclination of others to support opposing candidates/alternate leadership with the threat of death and remain in power. Ultimately, this well-known standard or law has a direct effect on the fundamental right to vote and select leadership. Samuel was hesitant in anointing Daniel because the legal corpora made it difficult for Saul to make a decision on selecting leadership.
In an effort to stay conscious—or as millennials say, “stay woke”—of the apparatus of white supremacy and social inequality, don’t automatically accept the official explanations for oppression. Voter suppression has become more apparent and daringly visible in our communities because we didn’t “stay woke” to our intrinsic right to vote. Ultimately, we must educate ourselves socially, civically, and biblically so we can address problems of diversity in our country. We talk about Donald Trump too much! We do not talk enough about what we are going to do in order to address the bigotry and inequality in this country.
My challenge to all the churches in the Connectional church is to encourage conversations about injustice and mobilize our contingency by finding out what the bible says about oppression. As local and federal elections approach, we cannot let such issues regarding diversity and inclusion get overlooked. This election season, let us “stay woke” and vote by putting our religion to the test and exercising our inherent right to vote.