A Black and white vote: Statewide voter disparities


Andre Gary-Mack, Opinion Editor (He/Him)

It is no secret that 2020 has been quite the year. There has been some good, but mostly it has been like we are living in some sick and twisted experiment. Between COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, RBG’s death and a controversial election year, things have seemed to go left really quickly in the country. With all that is going on, everyone’s voice should be heard, which has been a running theme in the good ole USA.

Let’s talk about South Dakota, since this is where we are and where we should focus on. According to an article posted on roadsnacks.net Dec. 21, 2019 and updated in early 2020 for accuracy, South Dakota’s African American population makes up 1.8% of South Dakota’s population.

To put that into perspective, that is only 15,840 African Americans in the entire state. 10,301 African American’s live in Sioux Falls alone, followed by Aberdeen hosting the second highest population of 656 African American residents. Let’s dive a little deeper into the Black vote specifically.

In the 2016 presidential election, South Dakota had the worst turnout of Black voters reported by Wallethub. In the 2018 midterm elections, South Dakota was a part of that list yet again with the worst turnout of Black voters. Why are Black voters not coming out and letting their voice be heard in South Dakota in comparison to other states?

For one, it is just that the Black community is under-represented in South Dakota, in likeness to other states like Illinois and Idaho that have a much better turnout.

Being a part of a marginalized group, such as people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals or any other group can be extremely disheartening in this day and age. They can feel like a second class citizen in a time period where we should have progressed far beyond that point in history. It has been exactly 100 years since white women were granted the right to vote, and yet Amy Coney Barrett will likely set back every door that was opened for her by RBG; setting back any and all feminist movements fought for.

The 15th Amendment gave anyone of color the right to vote and not be denied that right. We are in a time period of major discord, and your voice needs to be heard. Between the rhetoric that Trump has spoken about his alleged helping of the Black community and what his actions have actually displayed, it is that much more imperative to be visible on voting day.

Is it as clear as this election being a Black and white issue? The lines can become blurred when you have people marching for social justice, yelling “defund the police” or speaking on matters of how Trump really has not done anything for the Black community, yet takes all the accolades for the work of previous leaders. Whether you are Black, white, male, female or other, it is so necessary to let the country know how you feel about our administration by getting up and voting, because believe it or not, the answers to who you think should be leading our country are very Black and white.