In 2018 Black Women Deserve More From Democrats — It’s Long Overdue
This year is off to the races, and Black women continue to drive the political narrative as we look towards the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.
We are all still buzzing over Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes. The billionaire media mogul showed us that we are on the cusp of a new political and cultural era in America led by the nation’s Black women, one in which, as she said: “no one will have to say ‘me too’ again.” Oprah reminds us that Black women have been integral, and continue, to call our nation to be a people of conscience, to transform our moral and political culture. The trending #Oprah2020 hashtag signals a nation ready to heed the call and support.
Last Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee welcomed its first African American members in this century after Democrats added Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to the panel that handles judicial nominations and appointments to the Justice Department.
The Hill Opinion
No African American senator has sat on the Judiciary Committee since the 1990s, when Carol Moseley Braun, a Democrat from Illinois, became the first Black woman elected to the Senate. There had been pressure on Democrats to elevate Harris; in the end, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer opted to elevate both of the Senate’s Black Democrats.
Harris’s appointment was possible because Democrat Doug Jones’s victory last month in Alabama shrank the Republican advantage on two committees. A victory won because of Black women voters.
A look at history proves that if the 2016 and 2017 elections have shown us anything, it is that we need to trust Black women—and in this election cycle Democrats face their first major test.
Let's be clear on who deserves gratitude for Tuesday night's Senate victory in Alabama: Black women.
For the first time in my 25 years of political advocacy and electoral work, the truth about the central role black women play in ensuring justice in this country is breaking through. Black women are the most loyal Democrats, with the highest consistent turnout of any race and gender. We win elections, period.
Senator-elect Doug Jones owes his victory to the exceptionally high black voter turnout, especially to black women. Black women made up an extraordinary 36 percent of Jones’ vote (calculated from exiting polling.) This in a state where the black population makes up close to 27 percent of Alabama yet represented 30 percent of the voters in Tuesday’s special election. A staggering 58 percent of Jones’ votes came from black voters; and the race was decided by a mere 21,000 votes. If black women, and black voters in general, had not turned out to the polls at higher rates than their population, Jones would not have won.
Let’s be clear: Jones did not win because his team prioritized black voters, who make up some 73 percent of the state’s Democrats. As of November, according to FEC data, the Jones campaign spent $7 million of $9 million on television ads targeted mainly at white voters, the majority of whom voted for accused child predator Roy Moore. Jones won because black women crafted and executed an independent, under-the-radar voter turnout operation in neighborhoods and organizations across the state and got the job done. They are the reason black voters overperformed in this election; even voters from rural areas of the black belt where neither campaign was present showed up.
Jones, and Democrats across the country, should be saying thank you to the 98 percent of black women and 93 percent of black men in that state who turned out in huge numbers to defeat a predatory candidate with racist and homophobic positions. (By the way, 63 percent of white women and 72 percent of white men voted for Moore, according to The Washington Post’s exit polling.) These black voters faced down voter suppression hurdles to win the election. But in particular, they should be saying thank you to black women.
The Hill Opinion
Democrats’ new 'Better Deal' comes up short for people of color
Democrats just unveiled a new platform they call “The Better Deal.” The name itself begs two questions: Better than what? And better for whom?
The platform makes a step toward economic populism with a broad commitment to enacting anti-trust measures to protect average people from abuses of concentrated corporate wealth and political power. The hope, presumably, is that the new platform will ramp up voter enthusiasm for the Democratic Party, whose months of anti-Trump messages have not increased Democratic voter enthusiasm. The platform closely resembles Hillary Clinton’s policy plan from her 2016 presidential campaign. But is it a better deal for people of color and does it specifically articulate their commitment to a politics of racial justice?
Unfortunately, the platform fails people of color in many ways. The platform doesn’t address racism and its role in limiting economic opportunity for people of color who make up 46 percent of the Democratic Party’s base. It fails to address the structural racism that has historically kept people of color at bottom socio-economically (e.g. a typical white household has 16 times the wealth of a black one).
It also fails to clarify the party’s commitment to protect the interests and safety of people of color such as Muslims who face racist violence, and black victims of police violence in cities across America. By not addressing in their new platform the violence and injustice that many people of color face, the party is undermining its own electoral success.
“ Democrats need to answer the question of how race and identity fit into their platform if they want to bring voters of color back to the fold for next year’s elections.”
— Aimee Allison
Democracy in Color
Shoulder to Shoulder: My Journey at the Women’s March
I didn’t know what to expect when I boarded the flight to D.C. last Thursday for the Women’s March. But by the time I touched down, I knew that the Women’s March that was converging in a few hours was alive and vibrant and fierce. This movement of women, led by women of color and embracing a broad justice agenda, was the essential expression of our collective joy, love and energy.
During my layover in Philadelphia, I had to wait 90 minutes so I sat down for a bite to eat near my gate. CNN dominated the screens above the bar silently blaring headlines about the next day’s inauguration. I hadn’t watched much cable news in the past three months, choosing instead to write, plan, and meditate. But as I looked on, I felt a pit grow in my stomach; as I boarded my flight I wondered how many of these people on the flight were there to celebrate Trump.
When our short flight reached cruising altitude, the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that we were preparing to land and called the flight the “Inauguration Special.” A woman shouted out, “You mean the Women’s March Special!” Suddenly we all lifted our eyes and recognized that the plane was filled with women on their way to the March. Moved and full of hope, I snapped a picture of my view out the window and wrote a Facebook post about what had just happened:
The post went viral receiving over 10K reactions and hundreds of comments. People on the thread “shouted out” the cities they were on their way to march in. Others cheered one another on.