Political appeal

Keisha Bell
Keisha Bell is an attorney, author and public servant. www.emergingfree.com

 

BY KEISHA BELL

Black women voted at a rate higher than any other group in 2008 and 2012 according to the United States Elections Project analysis of Census Bureau data.  In 2012, the presidential election saw 74 percent of eligible black women voting, 96 percent of whom voted for President Barack Obama.

Bypassing reported allegations of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election exists the oftentimes ignored, yet blaring questions surrounding the political establishments’ lack of appeal to the powerful voting block of black women.  She has shown that she will vote, but where are candidates and political party attempts to woo her?

Ask yourself, which candidates explicitly include agenda items that appeal to black women collectively? Which political leaders address her concerns and set as goals meeting her expectations in order to garner her vote?  Who uses their platforms to bring attention and solution to obstacles impeding her upward mobility and development, and to that of younger generations looking up to her?  You do not have to be a black woman to find importance in these questions.

When political talking points and platforms are developed, do you think the idea of “black women” is consciously included in the desired general audience?  Who is this audience?  If the voting block of black women were truly included, would not you frequently hear politicians and political parties mentioning her interests in mainstream media?  She is listening.  Her vote and support have shown to determine election outcomes.  Where are the efforts that appeal to her specifically?

When not completely ignored, there seems to be a tendency of politicians to limit the concerns of black women to issues media outlets and agendas have placed a black man’s face (i.e. police brutality) and a black child’s face (i.e. poor schools).  Although these matters are of great concern to black women, politicians must expand this list if seriously desiring not only her vote but her support.  Recruiting black women at all levels within political arenas and supporting her expression will help to do this.

Historically, black people have held major membership in both major parties.  After the Civil War, most black people were Republicans. This is understandable since the history of the Democratic Party was overwhelmingly pro-slavery and pro-segregation.

A political shift, however, occurred.  President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 re-election was significant in that it demonstrated to the Democratic Party that it could endorse a liberal civil rights platform and win.  As a result of Truman’s appeals for a federal ban on lynching and supporting civil rights laws, the Democratic Party saw increased numbers of black voters joining.

Just as black voters were “courted” in the Republican Party initially, the Democratic Party realized it could win elections by presenting the same or similar appeal.  The black voting block was recognized and not taken for granted.  Both black and non-black people understood its value.  As a result, both black and non-black people saw progress.

Look around.  On local levels, are you seeing progress being made to improve life for black people?  Many times, what is seen locally is reflected nationally.

In 2012’s Presidential Election, 74% of eligible black women voted nationally.  Locally, it is important to appeal to and support her via representation and opportunity.  As history has shown, the vote one Party takes for granted will find its home in another.

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author and public servant. www.emergingfree.com

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