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What Black Women Need in Our Next President

What Black Women Need in Our Next President

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A survey has found that Black women are increasingly disappointed in the direction the country is going. The survey shows over 60 percent of Black women have identified the economy, racism, and gun violence as some of their top issues ahead of the 2024 election. But even though Black women are core to the building of this nation, our support is hardly recognized and protection is never guaranteed.

Black women have played fundamental roles in voter mobilization and voter turnout for decades. More than two thirds of Black women turned out to vote in the 2020 presidential election — the third highest rate of any race/gender group. Now, with another election looming, everyone is expecting Black women to approach this election with the same energy of 2020. The truth is: we’re tired.

How will Black women’s fight against economic hardships and against the dismantling of rights be recognized and supported? How will economic gaps for Black women close and create a more inclusive democracy?

These questions arise with every presidential election, and we’ve yet to receive answers or tangible solutions — just a lot of empty promises that are never fulfilled. I believe it is safe to say that if it were not for Black women voters in 2020, Biden would not be in office. If he hopes to win a second term, it’s not going to be easy. He has serious work to do with re-energizing Black women voters, who aren’t the least bit excited about him serving another four years.

With that said, we also recognize the heavy burden we bear as caretakers of democracy in this country. With this election, that may mean ensuring Biden isn’t replaced by Donald Trump, or anyone else for that matter, whose ideas and policies would cause even greater damage to us.

In 2020, a little more than 90 percent of Black women voted for Biden over Donald Trump, and Black women turned out at the polls in greater numbers for Biden than they had for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Black women will have to take a realistic view of Biden’s time in office before gifting him the same level of support in 2024.

One of the biggest investments Biden has made, particularly in Black women, has been student loan forgiveness. Whether or not Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt is constitutional will be decided by the Supreme Court. But Biden’s plan is significant for Black women in a country where we carry disproportionately more student loan debt and, due to systemic racism in the job market, have had more difficult time paying off.

From a holistic view, Biden has made a concerted effort to make Black women see him as someone who prioritizes Black women’s issues. He nominated the first Black woman to the Supreme Court in Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and his decision to have Kamala Harris as his vice president, making her the first Black woman to ever hold the position, remains noteworthy in the eyes of many Black voters.

But Biden surrounding himself with brilliant, capable Black women could also be seen as the Democratic Party just doing what it has always done, which is to harness the intellectual labor of Black women without truly showing they care about us with policies or anything else.

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Biden has vowed to “finish the job” he started. Honestly, what does that mean for Black women? Biden is slow to act and fails to address things directly. There are not a lot of tangible receipts in terms of policies. Rather, he panders to us when it’s time to get our vote.

I’m frustrated with waiting for Democrats to make investments in the social safety nets that can improve the health outcomes for Black women in this country. Supporting Biden is complicated, especially for many Black women who are ready for a president who does more than uphold the status quo. We deserve better.

Again, we find ourselves in a political situation where the same candidate is the only viable option — a lesser of two evils — which is frustrating and, quite frankly, embarrassing. Black women deserve a return on their investment this year. This is not a situation where we are being inspired by a candidate, like we were with President Obama. As Black women, we need a president to do, at the very least, two things: hold the line on gains we have made over the last 50 years and protect the rights that we are seeing being deleted.

Black women don’t have the luxury of skipping elections or side-stepping issues. We have been voting legally at the federal level in America for only 59 years, after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We have the most to lose because of the intersection of race and class. There is always more at stake for us, and this is why we over-perform when it’s time to vote.

Looking ahead to the presidential election, it’s an opportunity to increase social, economic, and political power for marginalized people. We need more than a fool’s paradise from Biden. We need policies that will improve our lives and our communities. On the other side of the coin, we do not want or need Trump to return to intensifying issues of student loan debt, health care, reproductive rights, and income inequality. We need our lives changed; we need our Black businesses to prosper and not be cut off at the knees; we need Black people thriving and not just surviving. We can’t afford to just have symbols of hope anymore; we need the real thing.

Despite substantial economic and social challenges, Black women are still deeply invested in democracy. According to a Goldman Sachs survey, 86 percent of Black women state they will definitely or probably vote in the 2024 presidential election. They also remain hopeful about the potential for change despite the realities they face. This shows the steadfast determination of Black women and their belief in democracy as a viable tool for change.

Supporting and protecting the most disenfranchised and marginalized is the foundation of a true, effective democracy. When Black women rise and progress, we all rise and progress.

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