Once when I was a delegate at my church’s national convention, I was randomly picked to sit on a committee that would recommend a resolution on the major topic of the year. This topic had to do with church representation at the national offices, and the issue’s champions believed that people of color were not receiving as much voice as everyone else. My church is very sensitive to inequality; this was a serious concern. What complicated matters, in part, was that addressing the issue in the way the champions called for would cause major restructuring of our representational process. Still, I did research; I was ready to upset the apple cart. But then, as the convention rolled on, people of color would approach me, and they would say, “Please don’t vote to change the process. Please understand that this issue is raised by a vocal minority among a larger minority. Please do what the majority of us wants, and find another way.”
I was amazed. But what could I do? My conscience told me to vote according to what was best for people of color—and that meant I had to listen to the majority of those folks. Who was I to say I knew more than they, about an issue that most impacted them? Who was I to override their wishes? I voted to put down the minority’s resolution. And with the help of many other people, my side of the vote won the day. In reaction to the election results, the minority disrupted the rest of the convention with songs and chants. Nobody felt very good about anything. But I still feel that I did the right—if not perfect— thing.
Ten years later, when most of our country’s minority voters caucused for Clinton, I drew on this same experience. I listened to the majority of my brethren who receive the most damage from institutional racism. I figured they knew best, and I backed their candidate. It was all I could do.
(Originally posted July 27, 2016)