By Rell Black
Whenever we seem to vote a Black elected official in, they’ll try and finesse a few votes then say, “I’m not just an official for Black people. I’m an official for all people.” Those same Black politicians thrive off our votes, yet promote and push paid-for agendas that have no positive effect on suffering parts of our city.
In 2019, a new storm is brewing that will alter the future of politics and community affairs for citizens everywhere. That storm is young Black politicians stepping up to the plate.
Real local issues
Black politicians discussing Black issues to get Black results. Health awareness, youth-driven programs and police/community affairs are some of the true issues of our community, and it’s time we get leaders who truly understand and respect that.
Health is wealth, and our community is doing poorly. In Volusia County, HIV/AIDS rates have more than doubled in the last few years. With the promotion of promiscuity and sexual fluidity, more Black people than ever are contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Not a single politician will discuss it.
Hypertension and diabetes are just two of many health issues facing our community daily. Volusia County is one of the top 10 unhealthiest counties in America. Healthier food options, including vegan and health food truck fairs and more fresh produce grocery stores, would make a difference and create a sustainable impact on the overall health of our community.
Where are the services?
Mayor Derrick Henry has done a great job with his annual health and fitness challenges, but where are the mental health courses for our troubled youth? Where are the drug prevention courses on Saturdays at the local libraries for our highly impressionable teens?
It’s ironic that whenever a young man is killed in a high-speed police chase or dies from a car crash, elected officials make public statements asking for change. Shouldn’t that have been done prior to yet another unfortunate person victimized by his own environment?
When are politicians going to be honest with the Black community about police brutality and human/civil rights issues? Just last month, a young man was harassed on Seabreeze Boulevard and beaten on video by a Daytona Beach police officer. Not one elected official spoke up or out against this constitutional and human rights violation.
Are our current Black elected officials afraid to speak up in case they lose their status or connections? Or are they so bought and sold to the highest bidder that issues in the Black community truly don’t affect them?
In 2017, when Shykari Willis was killed in his grandmother’s backyard after an altercation with a Daytona Beach police officer, it would’ve meant the world to our community if any elected official would’ve said, “This is unfortunate for our community, and this is a true issue around the country.” Most importantly, our youth truly needs the voice of elected officials to make sure they have a safe and successful future.
With as many Black elected officials and city employees, you would expect there to be a variety of cultural events to enrich our community. It’s disturbing that a city that houses Bethune-Cookman University doesn’t even have an annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade or celebration anymore.
It’s time for our issues to be heard and for a true leader to be a voice for the voiceless. Unfortunately, every group or demographic except the Black community is able to openly speak about their issues and struggles.
As a people, we’re supposed to show empathy and open our hearts. But when it comes to Black issues like mass incarceration, sexual assault, illiteracy, and poverty, politicians usually skate over these topics so not to offend potential voters.
This is why it’s so crucial for Black politicians to focus on Black issues and attempting to find Black solutions so maybe we too will have our stories and our lives protected and appreciated.
We are ready
Our young generation of leaders are ready, thriving and hungry to make true changes in our community. We’re tired of the way things are being run. We’re upset with the lack of transparency. We are tired of seeing the same faces over and over on commission and redevelopment boards.
The race for 2020 starts now. There will be more young, successful Black candidates than ever before. We will move our community forward, by any means necessary! Asé!
Rell Black is an award-winning activist, blogger and the founder of Community Healing Project Inc.
This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.