Charlamagne Tha God, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Common urge ‘Vote For Your Life’

The second installment of theGrio's weekly online panel featured a new selection of Black voices to discuss the ramifications of the forthcoming election on Nov. 3.

The second installment of theGrio‘s weekly online panel, “Vote For Your Life,” featured a new selection of Black voices to discuss the ramifications of the forthcoming election on Nov. 3.

Joining host and theGrio‘s VP of Digital Content Natasha S. Alford this week were co-host of The Breakfast Club morning radio show, Charlamagne Tha God, Bishop T.D. Jakes and award-winning rapper Common.

Byron Allen, owner of theGrio and CEO of Entertainment Studios, returned for a second week in a row, along with White House correspondent April Ryan.

Read More: Stevie Wonder, John Legend and April Ryan talk voter suppression in ‘Vote For Your Life’ panel

During this week’s installment, the panel focused on how crucial it was to look beyond just who was running for president. Allen spoke at great length about Black Americans needing to be aware of the chance to rearrange the U.S. Senate in addition to the White House.

“We are at the precipices of absolute greatness,” Allen said, “and we can’t just focus on Biden and Harris. We have to focus up and down the ticket.”

Allen continued to explain that Black voters needed to “lean in” and send donations to those that they want to win in November, pointedly singling out Senate hopefuls Jamie Harrison, Sara Gideon and Amy McGrath.

Jaime Harrison on the campaign trail. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

McGrath, is running against Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who Allen pointed out infamously helped block Former President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court Justice seat with Merrick Garland in February 2016 prior to the election. This year, McConnell is trying to make sure President Donald Trump’s nomination Amy Coney Barrett gets confirmed less than two months before the election.

“You got to send a message to Mitch McConnell — God don’t like ugly,” Allen said.

READ MORE: White women must give up their power and make way for a Black woman Supreme Court justice

Bishop Jakes expounded on Allen’s point of making sure voters pay more attention not only to candidates of various offices, but to also do a better job making “the transition from protesting to policy.”

T.D. Jakes attends the”Black Nativity” premiere at The Apollo Theater on November 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

“Policy change is what we need and it’s not just going to come from the White House,” Bishop Jakes stated. “It’s going to come from the DA, it’s going to come from the judges. The lower on the ticket you get, the closer you get to your table.”

Common himself, even admitted that he was among the many who were unaware of how much the Senate could determine the fate of an administration, particularly when Obama was in office.

“One of the things I didn’t know … When people were saying, ‘Barack ain’t doing what he’s supposed to do.’ Barack did what he could,” the Oscar-winning MC said. “He had resistance coming from the House and the Senate. To be honest, a lot of our people just don’t know that.”

Former senior advisor to the President of the United States Barack Obama, Valerie Jarret (L) and Rapper, actor and philanthropist Common (R), appear for Let Love: A Conversation With Common and Valerie Jarret at the Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History & Culture on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for Think Common)

Ryan piggybacked off of Common’s point on the importance of Black people educating themselves on the process of government checks and balances by mentioning a lack of political education in schools today.

“How many of us have children or nieces and nephews who have civics classes now? They don’t even teach civics in some places,” Ryan said. “So, they don’ t understand looking at president, looking at governor, looking at county commissioner, looking at registers of wills. They just think it’s the big headline, and that’s it.”

Another important issue that theGrio‘s Alford brought up to the panel was the idea that many Black Americans feel that their votes don’t count, for various reasons, including decades of voter suppression and a cyclical lack of Black policy and progress regardless of who occupies the White House.

Charlamagne spoke to this point by explaining that Black citizens have reached a point in which blindly voting for one party isn’t going to cut it any longer. “I love the fact that Black people are actually demanding something for their vote now,” said the radio host.

Charlamagne tha God Joe Biden
(Credit: Getty Images)

The New York Times-bestselling author expressed the fatigue of the urgent narrative of voting every election but yielding little results. “Every election is life or death. They always throw that at us. And a lot of Black people have heard that before and now they actually want something, and I love that. There’s nothing wrong with Black people asking why.”

Read More: Charlamagne slams Biden for claiming Trump was first racist president

Charlamagne, who interviewed Biden during the campaign trail following the Democratic primaries, said to the young Black voters that for him, he’s voting for interests over individuals. “It is hard to look at Biden and say that’s the catalyst for change,” he said. “But I believe it’s a pathway to change.”

Ryan said that doing the independent research and establishing trust with candidates should be what leads voters to make decisions.

“We need to find the people who we trust, who we believe reflects our value system or reflects who we are,” Ryan said. “If you have to pick up the phone or google them, or email them? Do it. And get a response. Hold them accountable because they want your vote.”

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