Why Coveted Black Spaces Are Key Campaign Stops For 2020 Presidential Candidates
There is power in Black influence. Our platforms are no longer seen as generic media and our audiences as insignificant.
November 05, 2019 at 6:19 pm
As we approach the election, Black media outlets have become pivotal pit stops as candidates work to reach an audience they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. For Black millennials, many of us seek trustworthy news sources with hosts that look like us, share our experiences and ask questions related to policies that directly affect our families and livelihood.
Until recently, the inclusion of outlets that cater to the Black community wasn’t deemed necessary for critical conversation. If we wanted to hear the stance of a specific candidate, we had to tune into white media where we would hear their positioning on broad issues. Politicians have realized the impact of aligning with Black culture and are having, what appears to be, mandatory dialogue with recognized voices in Black media in hopes of a simple nod of approval from the most marginalized group in the country — a group that represents 20% of the democratic vote.
So far on the road to 2020, we’ve seen Bernie Sanders travel to Detroit for a conversation with BET award-winning rapper Cardi B, to discuss healthcare, minimum wage and immigration. We’ve seen Cory Booker sit down with Blavity Politics, and both Andrew Yang and Elizabeth Warren joined The Breakfast Club morning show to detail their plans to invest in the Black community.
Communities of color have long felt disconnected from politics and the notion that lawmakers work in favor of their needs. Over the past four years, a large part of that group has become invested in the practices of local and federal government, and educating themselves on 2020 nominees, issues affecting their families and what’s being done to combat those concerns.
Historically, Blacks in America fought for their rights in ways that didn’t involve running for office and changing laws from the inside. Through unity, activism and organized efforts, Blacks were able to gain access to the luxuries of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The huge influx of powerful voices rallying for Black rights on a federal level, has allowed an entire community of people to feel empowered, seen and included. An entire community of people who have gone centuries feeling like they weren’t valued can turn on their televisions and see Senator Stephanie Flowers fighting for their lives.
Eboni K. Williams, attorney and co-host of REVOLT TV’s State of the Culture, has a career-long history of sitting in uncomfortable spaces in order to further the Black agenda and provide an educated (and Black) perspective on what’s happening in America. As it pertains to the upcoming election, Williams agrees that for the first time in our lifetime, we’re at a political crossroads and our decision to get involved, or not, is one of life and death.
Williams states, “Under normal circumstances I would give you specifics about what would make a robust primary to assure that we end up with the most qualified and aligned candidate going into the general election. These are not normal circumstances.” She continued, “We have to show up in numbers that exceed Black voter turnout of Obama 2008, no matter who the nominee is. In my professional opinion, we don’t have the luxury of getting caught up in minutiae. This President’s base is unshakable. His base is not voting for him based on policy. They are desperate and will do anything to protect white mediocrity and the intrinsic value of whiteness in America. That’s what’s on the other side of the ballot.”
Her call-to-action for the Black community and their allies is to show up to the polls in record numbers. Williams said, “Black people, any woman who’s worth a grain of salt and has an interest in her own ambition, actual conservative republicans, independents and anyone who is a part of the anti-Trump collective, we don’t have an option to sit this one out or to be picky. Get out and vote.”
After the abolishment of slavery, free Blacks began to seek education, employment and roles in government as they embarked on a new era, and what was thought to be, freedom. Keeping in theme with America’s pattern, however, their progression was met with the Black Codes, Jim Crow and unequal pay, forcing many of them into isolated housing projects and low-wage jobs. Blacks are the only ethnic group whose basic rights had to be fought for and legislated on the law books of this country. We have spent generations fighting for an equal voice and chance at survival, but in order to begin leveling the playing field, we must elect change-driven officials who share the same vision of an equal society where all can exist and be afforded the same opportunities.
Lack of accessibility led to the inception of Black award shows, Black print and digital media, Black literature, Black fashion, and other outlets dedicated to celebrating our cultural contributions and a safe space to exchange information that wouldn’t make the cut for Fox News. We’ve progressed from the days of having to isolate ourselves and are now being sought out to share space with outsiders, as candidates plant their feet on the ground to familiarize themselves with Black needs.
There is power in Black influence. Our platforms are no longer seen as generic media and our audiences as insignificant. It’s imperative that we take advantage of this moment and use it to further our advancement.