The Opinion Feature

Why is the Black Student Still an Apathetic Voter?

In January 2009, an African American President of the United States was inaugurated for the first time since Chris Rock’s movie “Head of State”, a fictional film based on the funny idea of an African American President. Having a President of their color, if nothing else, should at least make blacks politically alert and attentive. However, the percentage of collegiate white voters still embarrasses the percentage of their black counterparts. Why? Are black students lazier than white students? Are they not proud? Do they think because Barack Obama won the job is complete, and they don’t have to push him anymore? Why is the black student still an apathetic voter?

The biggest reason black students don’t care to vote is because they simply feel like they’d waste their time. Students feel like regardless of how much they show up at the polls, their impact on government will remain absent. “Voting on issues is beyond my control. Even if I vote to elect officers, there’s no guarantee they’ll be effective because House majority rules,” says Terrance Hamm, Hampton University Senior and editor-in-chief for the school paper. Terrance is one of many students who refuse to sacrifice his time and energy to help a candidate win an election and eventually have limited power themselves. “I’m an apathetic voter,” says Terrance, “because I’m not convinced my vote counts.”

In order to eliminate an apathy for voting, you must first eliminate an apathy for politics. Between drinking, partying, eating, napping, studying, and working, the black college student doesn’t have the desire to attend to their political literacy; and if you’re politically illiterate, you’ll never want to vote. University of Maryland Eastern Shore Sophomore Anita Townsend commented, “My parents tell me who they want me to vote for, but I don’t know those people; so why should I help them out.” According to longtime, avid voter, Halle Jamison, political apathy is a problem. She said, “If you don’t care about politics and government, then you really don’t care too much about yourself because they have control over certain aspects of your life that you don’t.”

However, another reason certain black students have been ignorant to politics is the amount of concern politicians have traditionally shown for the black student. Until President Obama’s campaign, many of them have never heard the words “HBCU”, “college tuition”, or even “student loans” in a presidential debate or address. Left feeling irrelevant in Washington, black students chose to play the same game. They felt “We’ll care more about politics when they care more about us.”

Since creation, human beings have always wanted what they couldn’t have. Voting is no different. Kids want to be 16 so they can drive, 21 so they can drink, and 18 so they can vote. However, once 18 gets here, they realize the grass on that side of the fence isn’t any greener. They suddenly feel not so passionate about voting because it’s right at their disposal. Many college students, like Anita Townsend, don’t even think they have time for it. “I got too much on my plate to worry about registering and going out there, maybe when I’m older, but right now I just don’t really feel like it,” Anita said.

Enthusiasts for young people’s voting registration can only praise organizations like Rock the Vote. Using music, pop culture, and modern technology, Rock the Vote has registered over five million young people to vote. Rock the Vote is a huge success, but they still have their share of work cut out for them. The ability to vote may be constitutional right, but the right not to vote has been one more celebrated. Black college students are apathetic voters for a number of reasons. Democrats and/or Blacks can only hope as a whole that their lethargic college counterparts aren’t bad enough to spoil the bunch.

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