Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.
Many Black voters knew we were settling for the lesser of two evils when we held our noses and voted for Joe Biden for president of the United States.
With Donald Trump in the mix, we knew that Biden was not the worst that we could do, but a lesser evil is still an evil. More than eight months after we cast our votes, we clearly see what that evil looks like.
Democracy slipped during the Trump years and is now hanging by its fingernails onto a cliff that plunges into the abyss of racial inequity and abuse, the likes of which we have not seen since President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew federal troops from the South in 1877, ending the first Reconstruction.
There can be no doubt that elements within this country, and particularly within the Republican Party, hope to strip Black and brown people of their constitutional and human rights. The recent maneuvers to limit voting rights are bullets aimed directly at the heads of non-white people.
These assaults upon the most loyal segments of the Democratic Party are being facilitated by Democratic politicians who display an undeniable hostility towards voters of color by preferring a nonexistent comity among members of Congress to the rights of citizens, including their own constituents. And all the while, our lesser of two evils simply mouths platitudes about getting along without taking any leadership position that would protect voters of color, the Democratic Party or the democratic principles upon which this nation is supposed to be secured.
Given the current situation that people of color find ourselves in, I offer up that U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema know that an overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress have no desire to act in good faith and seek a reasonable compromise to protect voting rights. But Manchin and Sinema do not care. And given the recent behavior of Biden, we must ask ourselves if the president cares about what will happen to people of color when a Trump-packed Supreme Court continues to uphold the new barrage of Jim Crow voting laws that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.
It is not enough to say that Biden will be #OneAndDone and plan to rid our country of his feckless administration after four years. We must mobilize now to ensure that we will have the ability to vote after his four years in office.
There are those who use the term “the second Reconstruction” to characterize the period after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts. But just as the newly freed slaves were abandoned by the pragmatists of politics in the late 19th century, people of color are facing abandonment by scores of Democratic politicians today. If we do not act to protect our own rights and liberties, we will suffer the same catastrophic fate that our ancestors suffered for nearly a century after our faint-hearted allies decided our freedoms were not worth fighting for.
This is more urgent than a call to action; it is a scramble alert.
People of color have a pressing and monumental task ahead of us – great, in both importance and size. We have many allies, both stout-hearted and faint-hearted, and we face many detractors of varying degrees. We have our future to protect. Now is not the time to delay. Those who want to “wait and see” are merely in denial. The evil is upon us. We cannot be led into inaction by those who either care so little or know so little about what we face.
There are a multitude of civic and political organizations that take this threat to our democracy seriously, and we can look to them to help us organize and prepare for the onslaught facing us in the coming years and not be hamstrung by an ineffective White House.
It is beyond the scope of this writing to list all the organizations girding for the upcoming political battles, so we must seek them out in our local areas and offer our support in whatever way we can.
We cannot delude ourselves. The struggle is upon us, and we must prepare for “good trouble,” as John Lewis put it, because peace is not so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery.