Hervis Rogers, a Black man, had to wait until after 1 a.m. to finish casting his ballot in the Super Tuesday primary. Rogers was the last person to vote at his polling location in Houston, which happened to be on the campus of Texas Southern University (TSU): an HBCU. Rogers waited over six hours to cast his ballot and the question, based on this country’s history, is why? As Black entrepreneurs seek to advance, Black people must have equal access to political power, which starts with the simple ability to vote. Buying Black is the primary thing but without access to the political system, those gains can easily be wiped out.
Rogers works two jobs and had to report to work at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He’d already been to two other packed voting locations before he arrived at TSU, just before 7 p.m. The Harris County Clerk’s Office has reportedly claimed there were no major issues, the unusual wait times were simply a function of higher than expected voter turnout and not enough machines. According to Clerk Diane Trautman, more machines were provided as the night wore on, a night that saw Democrats outvote Republicans 3-1, in select places. Still, no one truly believes that this would be tolerated in white neighborhoods but somehow, it’s become routine in places where Black people tend to vote.
Texas Organizing Project said in a statement, “TOP has been working for years to grow the Black and Latino vote in Harris County, so we’re thrilled to see this historic turnout, but it’s equally infuriating that our communities’ vote is being thwarted by long lines and malfunctioning machines.” Long lines. Malfunctioning machines. These themes sound very familiar and that is precisely the problem. Nationally, there is no outrage when these discussions emerge. Everyone is eerily accustomed to the condition and largely apathetic: because Black people are the primary victims.
What happens if Black people “buy Black” but can’t even cast a ballot? Politics is, of course, secondary to economic power but it isn’t unimportant. The history of Black people is full of examples of gains that were easily erased because of unjust laws. The history is a warning to never take democratic institutions for granted and a six hour wait to vote is a pretty good indicator that there are cracks in the floor.