Why I See BIPOC Unity As An Important Pathway Forward
Black Americans were responsible for 87% during the 2020 election. While Black women in particular, were responsible for a whopping 91% of that total.
November 12, 2020 at 7:36 pm
The news of president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris’ historic presidential win was a welcome reprieve from what has felt like an endless barrage of bad news in 2020.
On Saturday, I, along with the rest of the country, breathed a languid sigh of relief upon hearing the news. This sigh was not because I naively assumed that this win would return our democracy to “normalcy.” But I am, however, hopeful that progress is possible. The streets and scenes in major cities across America this weekend affirm I am not alone in this notion.
My feelings of relief were later compounded by elation, when exit polling underscored the massive turnout Black voters delivered during this election cycle. According to the New York Times, among Democratic votes, Black Americans were responsible for 87% during the 2020 election. While Black women in particular, were responsible for a whopping 91% of that total. Black women like Stacey Abrams, who turned a 2018 gubernatorial loss into a massive effort to eradicate voter suppression in Georgia, registering over 800K Georgians in the process. Black women like Tamika D. Mallory, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, who have developed modern blue-prints for Black community activism and mobilization. Black women, like those in my respective bi-coastal communities, who held events and volunteered in droves to ensure that Americans secured their right to vote. I mean, it’s the #BlackGirlMagic for me.
Through the efforts of these individuals, and countless other volunteers across the country – like the 72% of Democratic Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voters as reported by the NYT — we made a strong statement to ensure that America’s marked history of voter suppression did not prevail in 2020. As members of the media and pollsters alike continue to breakdown the historic turnout from this election, two things are clear: one, that America is in dire need of improvement and healing as evidenced in the “closeness” of the popular vote numbers, and two, that BIPOC individuals have not only earned, but deserve a permanent seat at the table.
The same groups, who have historically been downtrodden by this country, arrived at the polls with the numerical formula in ballot form that saved the day. So, imagine the surprise of many, when Eva Longoria, a Latina celebrity, made comments Sunday evening that seemingly disregarded what exit polling numbers blatantly show. In an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, Longoria commented that “Latina women were the real heroines” in the 2020 election. And without “proper context,” as Longoria later offered on her Instagram page, the internet did what it does best, pre-empting a series of discussions and visceral reactions in real time.
While Longoria maintains that these comments were not received as intended, they also call out a pervasive divisiveness amongst women of color. Especially in the case of political and social justice issues. Yes, it is true Latina women did show up for the president-elect and vice president-elect, in record numbers, 70% of them in fact. While in contrast, 32% of LatinX voters were also responsible for “red-wins” across the country, whereas Black votes of the same kind only amounted to 12%. The assumptions are palpable, the differences are stark.
As a Black woman, studying these numbers, it prompted me to wonder: First, what point did Longoria’s comments serve, other than an invalid one? Two, why as a Black woman does it feel like our efforts are constantly being undermined? Three, what might happen, if instead Black women and Latina women, in addition to other BIPOC groups, joined forces to carry-out the enduring task of unifying this country? Imagine the magnitude of impact for this level of collective power.
During weekend news coverage, Former Senator Claire McCaskill made a bold assertion, suggesting that the Democratic Party’s inability to campaign effectively among LatinX communities, with the same vigor applied to efforts within Black communities might be the culprit. Senator McCaskill may be onto something — especially when we take a closer look at mainstream campaign efforts among other BIPOC communities, or rather the lack thereof. While all these communities cannot, and should not, be treated the same, they do deserve equal efforts of engagement. Perhaps, the 2020 election is a case study on the differences of these efforts, and perhaps campaign efforts leading up to the 2024 election will qualify the assertion of power behind unifying minority issues.
Today, over 40% (according to calculations from the U.S. Census Bureau) of Americans identify as a racial or ethnic minority. Over the next four years, these numbers will undoubtedly grow, and I’m curious to see what else grows. The work to unite this country has already begun, but the seeds to unite BIPOC groups must be firmly sowed as well.
America is in need of reform. America is in need of healing. America is in need of capable leadership, and on January 20, 2021, she’ll have it. And with bated breath, we are all waiting to see what happens next.