The Democratic Party Needs To Do More For Voters Of Color.
I see a lot of posts thanking black women and men for #NoMoore. And I totally get it, we are relieved that a racist, bigoted, pedophile didn’t end up in the Senate.
Although these posts are well-meaning celebrations, it is incumbent upon us to remember that black women and men didn’t vote for Doug Jones to save America from itself or even because they were particularly enamored with Doug Jones.***
This was about self-preservation. The NAACP of Alabama mobilized because they knew what was at stake. When white supremacy forms the foundation of the political platform (as it does in the Republican Party and as it did unapologetically in Roy Moore’s campaign) the black community is ALWAYS the first to suffer.
The NAACP stepped up because the Democratic Party has not been doing enough to fight that platform. For example, the Democratic Party STILL isn’t doing enough to fight racially-motivated gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and other forms of voter suppression in the wake of losing the VRA, the Democratic Party isn’t doing enough to register voters of color, help them afford the mandatory and oftentimes cost-prohibitive voter IDs, help them get to the polls, or protect their rights at the polls.
The Democratic Party isn’t doing enough to build a platform that addresses the socioeconomic concerns of voters of color, who tend to live in the most economically-depressed areas because the Democratic Party is complacent and more often complicit when it comes to the legacy of slavery, segregation, redlining, predatory and usurious lending, underfunded schools, environmental racism, broken windows policing, etc.
Yes, that includes Doug Jones.
If you want to thank black women and men who came out in full force to protect their communities from Roy Moore, I ask that you take a moment to think about what it might feel like if the shoe were on the other foot.
What if you were the member of a group that were seeing its voting rights suppressed or were being systematically discriminated against? (Maybe you are and you already know how this feels.)
A simple “thank you” would be a great starting point but you would probably hope that it would be supported by some action, right? A “thank you for voting” would be rather cold comfort if in next year’s election or in 2020 you couldn’t vote because more voter suppression successfully targeted your community. It might be nice to have those grateful folks support your community’s efforts to protect its rights and advance its equality.
Here are some ways you can do that for minority communities at large:
- donate to the NAACP and other social justice organizations;
- sign up at Flippable and Swing Left to help register voters and build the progressive pipeline of candidates to turn red districts blue;
- go to the community organizing meetings in a minority neighborhood and *listen* to what the needs are in that community;
- join a community organizing group run by minorities and *listen* to what their needs are;
- read resources on intersectional allyship and join a mentoring group on how to be an effective ally
- answer the calls to action these groups issue;
- use your voice by calling your local, state, and federal representatives frequently to tell them that the rights and concerns of communities of color are not negotiable and to ask them what they will do to center those issues on their platform;
- attend town halls and community meetings in your municipality and ask the school board, alderpeople, town supervisor, treasurer, EVERY incumbent and candidate what they are doing to center the concerns of the minority families in your community on the platform
- ask them what they are doing to kill the school to prison pipeline for students of color, to reintegrate veterans after their tours are over, to reintegrate people who have been incarcerated, to fight bias in teaching that earns students of color lower grades and more detention, to diversify the teaching rubrics and lesson plans to center the experiences of minorities, to diversify the workforce in schools and other public service agencies — and then hold them to it;
- VOTE FOR MINORITIES. CREDIT THEIR IDEAS AND LABOR. PASS THEIR RESUMES ON. HIRE THEM. DROP THEIR NAMES IN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RETENTION AND PROMOTION.
- When they talk to you about their experiences in hostile work environments, take them seriously and use your social capital to help address the issues. Don’t write off sexual harassment, microaggressions, gaslighting, jokes about “not being able to put someone named Laquisha in front of a shareholders meeting,” etc.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. And it is just the beginning.
Black (and other minority) communities in every corner of this country are in a constant fight for their lives — yes, even on the liberal coasts. Fairweather friendship, allyship, and gratitude are not enough. There are actions we need to take as progressives, and not just in dismantling systemic designs that continue to hurt communities of color, indigenous communities, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, religious minorities, etc., but also in examining our own prejudices/unconscious biases and the ways we might unknowingly benefit from systems that tend to treat white people, mostly men, as the default citizen.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, but please do get to work turning that “thank you” into support.
By: Hypatia Macallasdair
“A Queer, mixed-race attorney doing her part to bend the “long arc” toward justice.”