In the run up to the 2020 presidential election there’s an exceptionally engaged, inspired and active political voting bloc that most experts predict will be a central force in 2020: black women voters. We are fired up and ready to go.
So, politicians, pollsters and others had better start paying attention.
Highly Engaged, Much at Stake
Experts peg the percentage of eligible black women voters who cast ballots in the 2018 mid-term elections at 55 percent – a full six percentage points higher than other voters and just slightly lower than the all-time high of 58 percent participation for all voters in 2008, according to FairVote.org.
While voter participation in the mid-terms is typically lower, black female voter participation was exceptionally high, in fact rivaling the show black women delivered in the 2008 presidential election. While history would suggest a decline in participation, black women are the most politically engaged voting bloc and will likely be a major force in the 2020 presidential election.
That should have Republicans candidates in particular on guard, since historically, black women voters vote overwhelmingly for Democrats (95 percent of black women voted for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election). That said, Democratic candidates also need to get the memo: they must verbalize their political positions and articulate ideas on policy issues that are critically important to us.
Action, Activism and Audacity
One might ask why black women are so politically engaged even ahead of the next presidential election.
In short, it's because the issues that are so critical to securing better futures for ourselves and our families aren’t being addressed. And that inaction has spawned a new level of action, activism and audacity among the black female voting bloc and prompted many black women to run for political office themselves.
Bolstered by the presence of Sen. Kamala Harris as a presidential candidate and the high-profile black female congresswomen who mounted successful campaigns for office, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), we’re energized and ready to make a political impact when it comes to addressing the issues most important to us: education, social justice, income inequality and health care disparities for women of color.
Addressing the Issues at Hand
Despite the progress black women have made collectively over the past few decades in education, non-white school districts today get $23 billion less in funding annually when compared to school districts in predominately white neighborhoods, a statistic that directly impacts our childrens’ futures.
Moreover, black men and boys face a 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by the police, while white men and boys face odds of 39 in 100,000.
Income inequality has staggering impact on black women, leading to the establishment of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, marked this year on August 22 and designated to call attention to the fact that black women earn just $0.61 per $1.00 paid to white non-Hispanic men. Why August 22? That is the approximate day that black women must work into the new year to make what a non-Hispanic white man earned at the end of the previous year.
Relative to healthcare, black women again face alarming disparities in maternal health care and are four times more likely to face pregnancy-related death than white women, an unconscionable and unacceptable statistic among developed nations.
These and other issues are driving a new level of activism and political engagement among black women and that’s why experts predict we will continue to be a force headed into the 2020 presidential election. And politicians in both parties must speak to the issues that directly and disproportionately impact us if they are to earn our votes.