Activist and scholar Nyle Fort asked, “Can Black millennials afford the consequences of dancing with the ‘party of our parents?’” Increasingly, young Black folks are rejecting the notion that their votes should automatically be given to the Democratic Party. Young Black people are tired of being “captured” by a party that fails to be responsive to continuous state violence against Black people.
There exists the idea of “electoral capture,” which defines the state of those that essentially have no choice but to remain in one political party. Those that are electorally captured are not sought out as potential voters for the opposing party. Consequently, their votes are considered as given by the party leadership that realizes that short of abstention, those that are electorally captured have no viable alternatives. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 in America, black people’s votes have been captured and often taken for granted by the Democratic Party. It’s well known that the majority of Black Americans identify with and vote with the Democratic Party. However, in the face of the 2016 presidential election, young black Americans are challenging the norm of guaranteeing their votes to Democratic candidates.
The Black Lives Matter movement has played a central role in igniting consciousness amongst Black millennials. Rising political consciousness has prompted young Black folks to examine the persistent political structures that maintain a system that is unresponsive to the needs and demands of Black people. A rise in consciousness and political mistrust go hand-in-hand. Young Black folks have demanded that their concerns be heard and acknowledged by the Democratic presidential candidates. Forms of political participation outside of voting are increasingly motivating young black people.
Additionally, Black youth believe that the largest amount of political change comes from the actions of ordinary people and community organizations as opposed to the nation’s institutions and political elites. Despite growing skepticism and political mistrust amongst young Black people, they have still exhibited the highest levels of political participation.
Young Black Americans are a key voting bloc in the Democratic Party. In the 2012 presidential election, amongst voters ages 18-24, young black people had the highest level of turnout at 45.9 percent as compared to white voters at 41.4 percent and Latino voters at 26.7 percent. However, Black youth are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the political system.
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