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Black Voters Backed Biden-Harris – What’s Next?
Two Syracuse U. African American Studies professors share insight on why historical priorities of the Black community need to stay at the forefront for the Biden-Harris Administration.
Casarae Abdul-Ghani: Biden-Harris will need to deliver on plans, promises
Abdul-Ghani, PhD, is an assistant professor of African American Literature and Studies and Lender Center for Social Justice Faculty Fellow at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She says:
“In the 2020 election, African Americans voted overwhelmingly for the Biden-Harris ticket, securing their bid to lead the United States for the next four years. In spite of dialogue questioning African Americans’ decisiveness because of Biden and Harris’ political records, the descendants of the formerly enslaved made their political statement—to dethrone President Trump and to restore democracy.
“Now is the time for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris to keep issues most concerning to African Americans at the core of their bi-partisan agenda. That means delivering on the ‘Lift Every Voice: The Biden Plan for Black America’ that promises to close the racial wealth and income gap, tackle racial health care disparities, racial inequity in education, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and sustainable housing.”
Kishi Ducre: On the shoulders of giants: Black women and the 2020 election
Ducre is Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, an associate professor of African American Studies and affiliate faculty member in Women’s and Gender Studies. She says:
“Everyone has acknowledged the role that Black women leadership, organizers, and voters have made in this year’s election. And they deserve it. Iconic memes have captured this spirit with a superhero-cape-wearing Stacey Abrams, to the photo of Black sorority sisters’ ‘strolling to the polls’ in support of their fellow sorority sister and now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Exit polling indicates that Black woman are the largest voting block for the Democratic party, and not only this year. Black women make up only 7.5 percent of the electorate – yet they are the most reliable voters. No other group has voted upwards of 90-plus percent for the candidates for U.S. presidents. But this praise is ahistorical; Black women have always been the backbone of progressive American politics.
“Saturday night, Biden proclaimed “…You always have my back and I’ll have yours” when addressing the African American electorate. However, history also shown that sentiment has not been true, despite such strong, stable, and persistent support of African American women. So while we celebrate, there is wariness. And while representation matters, I think Biden-Harris can ‘have these voters’ back’ by prioritizing issues important to them. In addition to COVID-19 testing, treatment, COVID-related economic relief and promoting climate justice, the new administration needs to approach the Black community as if they have suffered virus-related economic and social impacts for generations. The virus of structural racism, segregation, and disinvestment.
“In other words, we got you – and we fervently hope that you have us, too. And in the meantime, some Black women artists, activists, and organizers are taking a much-needed deep breath and rest so that they can rise and resist tomorrow.”
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