In the News

golden gate xpress
january 2018

“Hear our vote,” was the chant heard throughout the day as thousands of participants gathered at the Women’s March and rally in San Francisco. The march on Saturday, Jan. 20 aimed to encourage voters to elect more women into office in the 2018 midterm elections.

Attendees marched from City Hall to The Embarcadero waving signs in the hopes of raising awareness for candidates and allies fighting for women’s rights including housing, homelessness and sexual assault.

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“It’s time to take our power to the polls."

- Aimee Allison

 

MIC Network Inc.
December 2017

 

SELMA, Ala. — The door of the Dodge Charger could not be closed. Jarvis, the 36-year-old black man wearing a red hoodie in the passenger seat was a potential voter. He’d praised Ainka Jackson’s efforts moments earlier. 

“I love what y’all are doing!” Jarvis yelled. Jackson had squeezed between the Charger and a pickup truck to keep Jarvis from closing the door and driving off.

Jarvis said he understood that voting in Tuesday’s special election for Alabama’s open Senate seat mattered, but he hadn’t cast his ballot as of that afternoon. Speaking with Jackson, he expressed sympathy for Alabama’s homeless population. He wants to help, he said.

“MLK, [he] died doing this stuff,” Jarvis said to Jackson. Civil rights leaders in the 1960s were beaten for demanding a right to vote two miles from where he stood. “It’s time for us to step up.”

Jackson’s “Vote or die” canvassers, who knocked on doors for weeks to push voters to the polls for Democratic candidate Doug Jones, were there watching Jackson engage with Jarvis. He eventually left the passenger seat of the Charger to continue the dialogue.

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“STOP THANKING US AND START ELECTING US."

- Aimee Allison

 

San Francisco Chronicle
December 2017

 

Democrat Doug Jones’ upset victory in the Alabama Senate special election Tuesday not only narrows the GOP advantage in Washington, it sends a cultural message to the #MeToo movement that has been raising awareness about sexual harassment nationally: Even voters in ruby-red states are hearing you.

Alabama voters, who had twice elected Moore to the state Supreme Court despite anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim positions, couldn’t stomach allegations that he committed sexual misconduct decades ago with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Moore denied the accusations of impropriety, as did Donald Trump, who won the presidency despite allegations of harassment from 16 women.

But this time, the denials fell largely on deaf ears as Jones eked out a narrow victory with 50 percent of the vote Tuesday. Moore, who got 48 percent of the vote, didn’t concede, saying he would seek a recount because “what we should do is wait on God and let this process play out.”

If Jones’ victory holds, it would cut the Republican majority in the Senate to the most narrow of margins, 51-49. As a result, Trump’s “legislative agenda just got a whole lot more difficult. Republicans can’t really lose any votes on big-ticket items,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races as senior editor of the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication about Congress.

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"Voters of color are the base, and when you turn out the base, you win." -Aimee Allison

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Newsweek
December 2017

 

Democratic candidate Doug Jones has beaten his Republican opponent Roy Moore, making Jones the first member of his party to represent Alabama in the Senate in over 20 years—and Jones has black voters to thank, especially women.

His opponent, Moore, received the full endorsement of his party and President Donald Trump himself despite the former state judge facing accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct with multiple women, some of whom were underage at the time of the alleged incidents. Still, Moore was widely projected to win the match, and it was likely the backing of the black community that carried Jones through, despite its grievances against a party that may be leaning too heavily on a historic pillar of support.

In a breakdown of Jones's votes, he received the votes of 98 percent of Alabama's black female voters (who represented 17 percent of total voters) and 93 percent of its black male voters (who represented 11 percent of total voters). In contrast, 63 percent of white female voters (who represented 31 percent of total voters) and 72 percent of white male voters (who represented 35 percent of total voters) went for Moore.

The figures show that black women voters came out nearly exclusively for Jones. As recently as September, however, a survey by the Black Women's Roundtable and Essence magazine portrayed a demographic that, although still largely believing in the Democratic Party, had lost a significant amount of faith after a year that saw Trump elected, beating the first female U.S. presidential candidate (a Democrat) and ousting the first black U.S. president (a Democrat).

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BLACK VOTERS ARE THE DEMOCRATIC BASE, BUT DEMS ARE AWFUL TO THEM
— Newsweek
 
 
 

San Francisco Chronicle
August 2017

 
 

A long-term way to counter white nationalists: Electing more black women

For progressives looking to take the long view against white nationalists, Oakland organizer Aimee Allison has an idea: help her new organization elect more African American women to office.

Even though African American women are the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters — upward of 90 percent regularly back the party’s presidential candidate — none has ever served as a governor and only two have served in the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five states have never had a black woman serve in Congress.

Here’s one sign of disrespect from party leaders and elders: African American and other women of color face primary challengers more often than other candidates in Democratic primaries, according to a study from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

“When you pull back the covers on the business of politics, it’s structurally stacked against women of color,” said Allison, president of Democracy in Color, a media and advocacy group that focuses on race and politics. From the gatekeepers who decide which candidates get a party’s blessing to the political donors who decide where to direct their cash, “the system is rigged” against women of color, she said. Read More →

“There’s a reason that she’s only the second black woman in the Senate,” Allison said. “Systematically, the political world is against women of color.””

— SF Chronicle

 
 
 

The Daily Beast
August 2017

 
 

Black Progressives Say The Democratic Party’s 2016 Autopsy Has Ignored A Critical Point

Atlanta, GA—“Trust black women,” a few dozen protesters shouted during a Saturday morning speech from Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans—a white Democrat. 

They had assembled in front of the stage at the Netroots Nation conference, with bright highlighter-toned signs raised in the air in a rainbow line, some of which compared Evans to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a reviled figure among those gathered at the conference. 

A flyer distributed at the protest accused Evans of voting for bills to create a private school voucher program and a constitutional amendment to allow state charter schools during her time in the state legislature. But the underlying message was that white progressives were not being held to as high a standard as black progressives, like Stacey Abrams, an African-American candidate running against Evans in the primary.

“Today what we were really trying to put forward is that as folks of color, black women in particular who were leading this action, it’s really about us having candidates who truly understand what impacts our communities,” Monica Simpson, one of the protesters told The Daily Beast outside of the ballroom. 

The protestations of those who gathered at Netroots Nation in Atlanta was specific to Georgia’s upcoming primary. But those demonstrating may as well have been directing their anger at the Democratic party at large. 

Throughout the conference, there was palpable tension over the party’s approach to minority candidates and minority voters, with African-American progressives pushing back forcefully over what is seen as a myopic fixation with winning back the white working class to the party. Read More →

“A conversation about refining an economic message must be paired with an open acknowledgment about the role of racial injustice in limiting economic opportunities for nearly half of the base of the party,”

-Aimee Allison

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Bustle
May 2016

 
 

This Is Why Hillary Clinton's Running Mate Should Be A Woman

Of the many aspects of Hillary Clinton's prospective Democratic presidential nomination that are often speculated about — Will her record on Benghazi cost her? What will a debate with current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump be like? — there is one that may prove especially controversial: Will Hillary Clinton pick a female running mate? Certainly, many Democrats would likely be anxious about their party's White House prospects with an all-female ticket. Clinton is trailing among white male voters. If she captures the nomination and wants to win white men in the general election, conventional wisdom goes, she'll need to balance the ticket. And she can't choose another woman because, as Rachel Maddow so memorably suggested, she'll probably need to pick "some Grizzly Adams mountain man" instead, "to comfort the people who would be so freaked out by the prospect of a woman president."

But if Americans are ready for one woman, couldn't they easily be ready for two? I certainly think that an all-female Democratic ticket is the right move — and I am not the only one.

Aimee Allison, Sr. Vice President of PowerPAC+ and author of She the People: The New Politics of Women of Color, which is to be published in September, says Clinton should select a woman — and specifically, a woman of color as her running mate. Allison tells Bustle, "It's time to desegregate the office of Vice President." According to Allison, given the rapidly changing demographics in our country, "It makes perfect sense to have a person of color," adding that women of color "have been behind progressive and Democratic victories without acknowledgment — and without the full embracing of women of color leadership and our issues. It is time for that to change." Read More →

 

“women of color "have been behind progressive and Democratic victories without acknowledgment — and without the full embracing of women of color leadership and our issues. It is time for that to change.”

— Bustle

 
 

Stanford News
March 2016

 
 

Social justice and activism integral to American experience, speakers tell Stanford audience

Life as an activist can take on many forms, as panelists at this week’s campus discussion on social justice affirmed.

The four speakers at Stanford’s inaugural Sally Dickson Annual Lecture on Diversity, Inclusion and Reflection told stories of everyday heroism on behalf of their fellow community members. Titled “In Pursuit of Social Justice,” the March 7 event was sponsored by the OpenXChange campus initiative, the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and Residential Education. 

Bree Newsome, a filmmaker and activist, is known for being the woman who scaled a 30-foot flagpole to remove the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol in July 2015. She knew the bold action of climbing the flagpole would lead to an arrest, but was inspired to take the extreme measure as she saw how others around her were already regularly “volunteering” to get arrested during other protests.  

“There were all these people who were doing this heavy lifting, and I thought, ‘Who am I not to contribute what I can?’ That’s how I got into it,” Newsome said, reflecting on her activism efforts over the past few years.

Rick Lowe is an artist best known for his work behind Project Row Houses, a community-based art project that he started in 1993 by converting 22 shotgun houses in one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods into an arts venue and community center. He is also this year’s Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford.

Lowe has spearheaded community projects in other cities, building arts and education programs as well as transitional housing for low-income families. He was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Arts in 2013 and named a MacArthur Fellow in 2014.

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“You can actually pay your bills and be fully expressed as a complete person and as an activist,” Allison said, explaining how activists can draw financial support from networks of sponsors who believe in the same cause.

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The Huffington Post
July 2015

 
 
 

Democratic Senate Field Shaping Up To Be Most Diverse Ever

WASHINGTON — There are already at least five major Democratic candidates of color running for U.S. Senate in 2016, a significant boost in diversity to a group that has traditionally been overwhelmingly white. 

Of the 14 major Democratic Senate candidates thus far this cycle, 36 percent of them are people of color: state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez in California, Rep. Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Rep. Donna Edwards in Maryland and former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

“We’re at a tipping point. ... People of color, particularly women of color, are positioned not only to run these viable, strong campaigns but to actually win,” said Aimee Allison, senior vice president at PowerPAC+, which works to increase diversity in progressive politics. 

These numbers are likely to change before the general election. People are still jumping into races, and some of the candidates have to go through tough primaries that could knock them out of the race.

But a win by any of these women would be significant — it would double the number of women of color in the Senate.

There are currently six minority members of the 100-person Senate. Three are Republicans (Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina), and three are Democrats (Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii).

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"People of color, particularly women of color, are positioned not only to run these viable, strong campaigns but to actually win.” - Aimee Allison