Keneshia N. Grant, Ph.D.
How #BlackGirlMagic May Save My Vote for Hillary
Has anyone noticed that three Black women are running the Democratic Party during the week of its national convention?
Reverend Leah Doughtery is the Democratic National Convention’s CEO. She also planned the 2008 Convention, and has worked in various political posts. Representative Marcia Fudge, the DNC chair, is a Congresswoman from Ohio’s 11th district. She’s also former National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Democratic powerhouse Donna Brazile, the first Black woman to run a major presidential campaign, is serving as the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. Thank God for these sistahs, because I was almost ready to give up on national politics for the rest of the 2016 cycle.
Like many people in my generation, I supported Senator Bernie Sanders’ in the primary elections. I agreed with Bernie’s politics. I liked the idea of a candidate whose campaign was about what America should be instead of what America can’t be because “it will never pass Congress.” After it became clear that Senator Sanders would not become the Party’s nominee, I resigned to hold my nose and vote for Secretary Clinton this November #GirlIGuessImWithHer
Now that I was #TeamHillary, I was rooting for her to make a bold choice in her vice presidential pick. In my estimation, the kind of person who “needs” a white male to “balance” Secretary Clinton is the kind of person who was never going to vote for her anyway. Therefore, she had little to lose and everything to gain by choosing a VP candidate who was outside the box.
Just think about the possibilities. We could have a VP who is also a woman, or Black, maybe someone Latino, or a member of the LGBTQ community. We could have any number of people who better represent the great diversity of America. If we are going to make history, I thought, let’s go all the way!
In the end, Secretary Clinton chose Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. While Senator Kaine is undeniably progressive, speaks Spanish, and is from an important battleground state, he is also a white man. For a party with a base that is very Black and female, Clinton’s choice struck me as tone-deaf. It reminds me of the age-old pattern of mismatch between Black voter’s support for Democrats and what they tend to get for that support.
The overall turnout rate for Black women voters has increased steadily over the past 20 years. In 2008 and 2012, Black women turned out to vote at the highest rate of any group in the American electorate. Once they get into the ballot box, Black women overwhelmingly support Democrats. Since 2000, more than 90 percent of the Black women who turned out to vote supported Democrats. That number shot up to 96 percent in voting for President Obama.
In the 2016 cycle, Secretary Clinton has experienced the benefit of Black women’s overwhelming support. Their votes made the difference between the primary election campaign she experienced and one that would have been far more challenging, if Black women decided to unite behind Senator Sanders. What did Black women get for all of this support? What will they get for remembering the horror of losing a child to senseless police violence on a convention stage as they endorsed Hillary Clinton for President?
What Black women will get for our undying loyalty remains to be seen. We did not get a bold pick for Secretary Clinton’s potential second in command.
I understand the frustration of the Bernie supporters who are raising their voices in protest because they want to see a different kind of Democratic Party. I understand the frustration of people I meet in voter registration drives, who tell me they are not interested in politics because it doesn’t matter. I, too, have those moments. I had a big one last week after Hillary Clinton dashed my hopes of a revolutionary Democratic Party ticket.
However, watching Black women lead the Democratic Party this week has been refreshing for me because it demonstrates the potential of the Party to recognize the worth of Black women. Seeing Leah Doughtery, Marcia Fudge, and Donna Brazile in leadership is important to me because it shows the Democratic Party’s potential to reward its most loyal supporters with positions that are commensurate with their support.
I am hoping against all hope that Secretary Clinton and the Democratic Party continue to do what they did this week, rather than making the same, tone-deaf mistakes. If Black voters carry the Democrats over the finish line again, as we have done for decades, we deserve to see the first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. We deserve to have Black women in the President’s cabinet. There should be an unprecedented number of sistahs appointed to the lower courts. Since Black women represent the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the US, maybe we can get a Black woman Administrator of the Small Business Administration. After decades of support from Black voters, I hope that the Democrats continue the Black Girl Magic of this week for the rest of this campaign season, and as a potential President Hillary Clinton builds her administration.