Registering to vote can make a difference
It is important that the Black community register to vote and participates in the May 3rd elections. In many parts of the country, how Black people vote will make a real difference to people’s lives.
In the London Mayoral elections, the Black vote could be decisive –around one third of Londoners are Black. That is literally millions of votes. With the Mayoral elections being closely fought, our vote would decide who runs London.
The outcome of the Mayoral election will decide key issues for our communities, including whether or not the fares hike this year stays or goes, whether an educational maintenance allowance is re-established for students in London and the level of rent on private property. These are important issues for the Black community.
The Black vote has also been decisive in rolling back the advance of fascism. In Barking in 2010 we helped wiped out the record 12 councillor positions held by the British National Party (BNP). I am proud to say that they were replaced by a diverse group of councillors who represent the diversity of the area.
The results were so impressive in both Barking and Stoke that European Parliament representatives came to find out how we did it. One of the key difference between Britain and Europe is the level of political involvement and engagement of the Black communities.
This is where we come in. Black students are often negatively stereotyped; as are young black people generally. The media makes us synonymous with crime, under-achievement and suggests we are a drain on society.
Islamophobia is on the rise and it only disadvantages and isolates the Muslim community, it leads to a rise in racism which impacts on all black communities.
This is why it is all the more important that we get the truth out about the active role we play in the student movement locally and nationally, Operation Black Vote is over-subscribed for its Parliamentary mentorship schemes by young black people who are passionate about getting involved in the political process, and where we participate, we not only make a big difference but show we have the potential to make history.
All too often, Black communities feel disempowered, isolated and disengaged from the political mainstream. However, with record numbers of Black MPs elected at the last general election, we have shown that there is no door that will remain shut to us.
The power of Black people voting cannot be underestimated. Where we participate in elections and the electoral process, we are able to help our communities advance. History bears testimony to this. Black people have often had to fight for the right to vote.
When Apartheid fell in South Africa, the African population queued for hours just to be able to vote for the first time ever, a right that had been hard won, costing the lives of African people struggling against this racist system.
It is for them, and countless others who have been denied this right, that our generation must step up and play our part, seeing this right to vote as a legacy of such hard fought struggles. The NUS Black Students Campaign has launched its online campaign featuring prominent figures from our collective history to encourage young black people and students to participate in the elections.
Play your part by registering to vote for the local and London elections and get out and vote!
Here’s what you can do: • Tweet a link, or tell your friends and family, that printable registration forms are available from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk •
Deadline to register: 18th April 2012 to participate in the London and local council elections.