New #BlackToTheBallot Initiative Puts Black Voters’ Voices at the Forefront
Past elections have proved that Black voters are critical for Democratic candidates’ chances of winning the election. But many activists say the community’s needs and voices continue to be ignored by much of the political establishment. The Black To The Future Action Fund, a think tank that works to make Black communities powerful in politics, recently launched a new initiative to put Black voters at the center of discussions surrounding the 2020 Presidential campaign, called #BlackToTheBallot.
Founded by a group that includes Supermajority co-founder Alicia Garza, #BlackToTheBallot aims to register 30,000 voters in nine key battleground states and to get 50,000 Black voters across the country to commit to heading to the polls in November. The Action Fund has also rolled out a policy platform called the Black Agenda 2020, which empowers Black communities to encourage candidates and other policymakers and legislators to address issues that matter to Black voters, including the racial wealth gap, voter suppression, and healthcare disparities that continue to exist in the United States.
“Black communities are often spoken about, but we are rarely spoken to. Because our communities are not engaged, we’re not at the table when critical decisions are being made about our lives and our families,” Garza told Supermajority News. “Not being a part of the decision-making process isn’t just bad for Black communities, it’s bad for all of us.”
The creation of the Black Agenda 2020 was the direct result of the Black To The Future Fund’s Black Census, which involved the organization talking to over 30,000 Black Americans from all 50 states in 2018. The interviewees represented a cross-section of incomes, ages, and political perspectives, but Garza noted that many of their conversations had a similar theme. “The most common thing we heard was that our respondents had never been asked what they think, what they experience every day and what they want for their futures,” she said, adding that half of all respondents said they believed politicians don’t care about Americans who are Black or working class.
When they were asked what they think, respondents listed “wages that are too low to support a family” as one of the main things keeping them up at night, said Garza. Other frequently mentioned issues were access to health care and rising housing and college costs.
Garza hopes the #BlackToTheBallot initiative and Black Agenda 2020 will help voters and candidates alike. “We’re organizing our communities to register to vote and commit to vote so that our issues can become a priority, and Black communities can finally be powerful in politics,” she said. While voters can use the agenda to evaluate candidates on the issues, campaign officials can learn to better focus their policies on positively impacting Black communities.
“We all deserve to be active in the processes which shape our lives, and we all deserve to be powerful in those processes,” said Garza. “But as long as Black communities aren’t involved, we’re being left out and left behind.”