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Black Evangelical Amisho Baraka: Why I'm Not Voting For Trump Or Clinton

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Amisho Baraka

Hip-hop artist Amisho Baraka, who performs as Sho Baraka, is one African-American man who feels left out by both major political parties — and he says this will affect his vote come November.

Baraka, an evangelical Christian, recently wrote a column in Christianity Today entitled "Why I Can't Vote For Either Trump Or Clinton." In that article, the son of a former Black Panther says that "as an African-American, I'm marginalized by the lack of compassion on the Right. As a Christian, I'm ostracized by the secularism of the Left."

Many people are and should be fearful about the next president of the United States, he writes.

NPR's David Greene spoke with Sho Baraka about the message he's trying to convey through his music and as an African-American evangelical Christian.

Interview Highlights

On defending the Tea Party as a successful movement and model that he'd love to copy

Well no, I don't know if I'm gonna defend them as successful but I would they've been successful in communicating their desires and their needs, in a sense of creating a platform where people hear their desires and what they stand for. And I don't know if there's a unified voice in the urban Christian context where you can say that there's these groups of peoples who speak for us. And I do feel like the Tea Party has been successful in doing that.

On his ultimate goal

I think baby steps. One, just creating a coalition that is biblically based but also shares the compassion that Jesus displayed in the scriptures — an individual who cares for the poor, who's concerned for the outcast and marginalized, but at the same time doesn't compromise his divinity in order to show compassion. I think what we often are asked to do is make those things mutually exclusive.

On if he's going to vote in November

I am going to vote. I'm especially going to vote in my state and local elections. I will definitely cast a ballot for someone in the presidential election; it will not be Trump or Clinton.

On if he's worried that by not voting for a candidate that's not Republican or Democrat that he's not really taking part in the election

I understand the argument — and I think it's a viable argument — but I also believe the "protest vote" as they will say ... it should speak volumes. So like if Donald Trump wins then the Democratic party should recognize, "well, there's a base of individuals that we could have actually listened to, and rather pandered to."

And on the left, if Hillary Clinton wins, I think there needs to be a lot of work done on the right to say, "hey, how do we actually" — you know, you hear a lot of Donald Trump in his platitudes of "I'll help the black community out" — "but what actually will you do?" And I don't think there's been any steps to actually have real legitimate conversations or interactions with people. And so for both parties, I think there needs to be a reassessment on how we are to earn the vote of the urban Christian.

On if he has any songs that speak to this type of tension

"Maybe Both" — it's loosely based off Malcolm X's "Ballot In A Bullet" speech, where he talks about the importance of the vote, and to hold your vote and use it like a bullet. You don't waste bullets in war.

And I think what we've done — not just as an urban Christian demographic, but as a black community — I think we've just given up our allegiance, our blind allegiance, to the Democratic Party, without them actually giving any true concern to the plight of African-Americans in this country. ...

Malcolm X would have said, that was political — he called those individuals political chumps. And so this song basically talks about a critique of both parties. And then on the third verse, I draw a greater conclusion on how oftentimes we use Jesus as a construct to propel or promote our own personal agendas, but understanding he was much more complex than we often like to make him out to be.

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