Last year we were dealing with the mayoral race here in Indianapolis. We were in the midst of one of the bloodiest years on record, with 144 homicides, and were in search of leadership that we believed would not only help the city, but also help build the Black community.

Once we know it is an election year, it is sad how we Black folk get prepared to be entertained by our future beau. All of a sudden, these individuals who are never visible in the community (until this time) are up front and center. Some of them show up to neighborhood events, and they hug, kiss, take pictures and shake hands. When you look at the smiles on our faces, you’d think we had finally achieved something great. We can’t wait to take out our cellphones and get a picture with our potential mayor, governor, senator or councilor. Our backs are arched, our biggest smiles are showing, our hope is at an all-time high and our issues are all but thrown out the window. We would just like to say we met that man or woman who is about to be so far removed from us after the election.

Our pastors open their pulpits to these individuals. These are the same pulpits that another man or woman in the same field can’t step into simply based on denomination or gender, but it is now available for politics. They let these every-now-and-againers come in with their smooth words, and mostly empty promises, and tell you what they are going to do for you again and why voting for them is voting for yourselves. The sad thing about this is we believe them. We believe them, even if our educational system is poor. We believe them, even if our young men and women are dying in the streets. We believe them, even though they are trying to gentrify our neighborhoods. We believe them, even though we know we will never see or hear from them until it is time for them to run for office again.

We are now in the eye of the presidential election storm. These candidates are truly doing their best to get our vote. I have seen one candidate surrounded by multiple ministers who have endorsed him. I have seen another candidate have a meal with a rapper so he could get some Black backing. I have also seen another candidate reach out to some of the families of Black people who were either slain by the police or dealt with some other injustice leading to death. Why do Black lives matter so much now?

Where were you when these people were killed? Where were you when schools were being closed, or Black children were dropping out at an alarming rate? Where were you when the police killed an innocent woman for not using a turning signal? We have been underpaid, underemployed, discriminated against and locked out of opportunities for as long as we can remember, and if we really matter, I think these government officials would come around more often to see how we are doing, not just during election time.
We as Black people need to change how we deal with politicians. We need to learn to say no until they learn to say yes and actually do what they say they are going to do for us. Until then, pastors shut down the pulpit, rappers do a diss record, fraternities and sororities save your step performance and give them the cold shoulder. I’m sure that will come as a surprise to them.
Based on how they come to us during election time, we know Black lives matter as long as there is a vote attached, but we must show them — by not bringing harm to ourselves, supporting our culture and sticking together — that Black Lives Matter is not a seasonal thing, but it is truly a way of life.