words by Charles Brooks
Update: On August 11th, Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his Vice-President. Read the update on the Brooks Blackboard post here.
In fact, Black women, as a political bloc intend to use their years of voting investment in the Democratic Party as leverage, both as voters as well as candidates running for office. As voters, 55% of eligible black women voters voted in November 2018 – 6 percentage points higher than the national turnout. Black women are also credited with their role in President Obama wins in 2008, 2012 , as well as the 2017 special election in Alabama and in the most recent 2018 midterm elections. In their report, the Center for American Women and Politics wrote that as candidates, “Black women were elected to Congress for the first time from 3 states in election 2018, and 4 of 5 freshman Black women members of the 116th Congress (2019-2021) were elected in majority-White districts.”
|Photo Credit: Nicholos Kamm AFP/Getty via The Guardian|
Polling data casts some doubt on the much-expected boost in enthusiasm and turnout. According to Yahoo!News/You Gov poll; 52% said Biden’s choice could make me more excited, but I’m voting for him either way – 55% for blacks. This result tends to suggest that Biden loses little if he decides not to pick a black woman while only 19% said that Biden’s choice could convince me to support him.
But this is not a question of whether black women are qualified to serve as vice president but rather who will they serve. There’s this collision of race and politics that's almost appears to be an illusion. There's this spotlight on racial identity to take advantage of appeals made on the basis of race during the campaign only to be morphed to racial neutralism when actual governance and policy takes place, should Biden win. This is where Black folks are typically told that a rising tide lifts all boats...
Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor recently wrote in the New York Times: As more blacks entered the middle class, political demands shifted. Black elected officials were more in tune with the needs of their middle-class constituencies, black and white, than they were with the needs of the black working class. And their middle-class constituencies were more often concerned about a rise in property taxes than in ensuring access to a local Head Start. Bear in mind that according to Pew Research: in 2019, 43% of Black Democrats called themselves moderate, 29% called themselves liberal and 25% called themselves conservative.
However, time will tell if the current racial climate will be enough leverage to shift this paradigm.
1. Will the nomination of a Black woman as Vice President amount to “Black faces in high places”?
2. Is it fair to ask what will she do for Black America if Biden wins the November election?