There is a basic truth that needs to be heard; people of color have more reason to vote than their white counterparts. Why? Because laws are being written to help the rich and stunt efforts to assist people of color. Republicans are overwhelmingly made up of white citizens who benefit from their representation, where, in states like Oklahoma, there are no Black United States senators or representatives in Congress. There are two congressmen with a trace of Native American blood, but they are both republicans and appear to have little interest in supporting people of color. So, it appears the numbers are stacked against what use to be called “minority issues.”
However, the changing demographics seem to show the population of Oklahoma growing darker with each day. In 2000, white Oklahomans made up 83% of the population. In 2015, white Oklahomans dropped to 74% of the population. At the current rate of the darkening of Oklahoma, there should be 5% to 7% fewer white voters by 2024. Accordingly, the white population should be 67% of the total for Oklahoma. At that rate, there should be a good opportunity for a person of color to make a credible run for statewide office. Those differences will change more than the complexion of the candidates.
With more people of color running for office, there will be a need to raise issues important to them. Not just for candidates of color but for white candidates. Today, there is no political advantage to stating a position on race and class. In other states with slightly greater numbers of people of color, there are lively debates on race, equity, equality and tolerance. When is the last time any of those subjects were raised by white lawmakers in Oklahoma? In the not to near future, politicians will not only have to form positions on race they will have to defend past votes.
Of course, none of this will matter if people of color do not register to vote and actually go the polls. It will also be crucial to support candidates of color with financial support and boots on the ground to get the vote out. However, for the price of an extraordinary effort, the results can be greater than our own racial numbers. Everything from progressive state questions to quality candidates of color will benefit from a super charged effort to vote.
Oklahoma may well join the rest of the nation in seeing the numbers change and could put in place measures to make voting more difficult. Since republicans have shown no interest in expanding their base with racially friendly positions, the democrats or independents will benefit from the new Oklahoma voter.
Nevada, with its racially diverse population (74% white), is wanting to vote before traditional bellwether states Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2024 presidential primary. That means if they are able to pull off it, issues important to diverse populations will be promoted early and not at the end of the campaigns.
But make no mistake about it; there are still strong efforts to push back voting efforts of people of color. This week in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-backed election overhaul bill that would reduce election deadlines and expand voter identification requirements. Fortunately, Wolf is a democrat. In a fair election, fewer and fewer republicans will win statewide elections. Ironically, the only instances of voter fraud in Pennsylvania were committed by Republicans.
All this means your vote is so important. Never feel like it is insignificant. Your vote means just as much as any billionaire or powerful person’s vote. Effort and a commitment to vote will change more than the complexion of the candidate, it will have a huge effect on policies. VOTE!