New Survey Focuses on Black Women’s 2020 Priorities — As Voters And Census Participants

Supermajority Education Fund

February 26, 2020

An upcoming survey from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority will highlight the main priorities of Black women across the country ahead of the 2020 Census and November’s presidential election. The full results of the “In the Voices of Black Women” study will be unveiled this Saturday during the organization’s Jubilee Weekend on February 29. Highlights from the survey, however, reveal that Black women voters were deeply concerned about high rates of gun violence in the United States, healthcare — particularly mental health issues, and community-specific issues like the human trafficking of Black women and girls. 

Valerie Hollingsworth Baker, Zeta’s International Centennial President, stressed the importance of centering the voices of Black Americans during both the 2020 campaign and the 2020 Census in a statement announcing the survey. “We must be heard, and our communities must be counted,” said Baker. The survey “goes beyond the headlines to educate our communities about real issues that matter the most to Black Women. It’s time to get our issues addressed,” she added.

Professor Christina Greer of Fordham University has studied Black American voting patterns extensively. She noted that candidates should pay particular attention to how policies affect Black women and their families because, as a group, they are far more likely to vote than other populations. According to the U.S. Census, 55 percent of eligible Black women voted in the 2018 midterm elections, which was six points higher than the national average. 

“Negative things that happen in this nation tend to happen to black women in really specific and distinct ways,” Greer told Supermajority News, referring to things like healthcare disparities and benefit cuts. “This explains why you see Black women overbearing at the polls even if they are not always respected and compensated for their dedication.”

As Essence reports, Black Americans are traditionally undercounted in the Census, which in turn has real-life effects in communities of color, including cuts for community funding for schools and local programs, and Congressional redistricting. Advocates are particularly concerned about this year’s Census because of political developments, like the Trump administration’s recent push to add a citizenship question to the Census form. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling against such a question in June, but had it been added, it would have lead many immigrants and undocumented people to avoid participating.  

In addition to centering black women’s voices at the polls and in the Census, Greer also said more needs to be done to promote Black women candidates for all levels of state and national elections. “I think the largest question is ‘How do we cultivate candidates at the primary level from the very beginning?” she said, adding that many Black voters wished candidates from the Black community had better support systems in terms of both staffing and financial support in national campaigns.