Are Black men a determining swing vote, whose loyalty can’t be taken for granted?

Glad I have your attention now. Because we do have issues we care about.

I’m a 38 year old black man from South Carolina. But I don’t pretend that, as a Black man, I speak for everyone who looks like me. I’m just not that arrogant nor am I crazy as hell.

On the other hand, I’m also not stupid. I travel a lot escaping my own personal echo chamber whenever I get the chance and I listen more than I talk. Whether I’m sitting in the barbershop, praying in church, waiting in the airport or walking down the street. I listen and I apply what I hear to the history I know, the world I see before me and the common sense I was born with.

I listen and, for the past several months, I’ve heard the same refrain again and again from Black men: “If you want our vote, then you better care about our issues.”

You see, over the years I’ve written a great deal about how Black voters in general and Black men specifically constitute one of the most consequential and most loyal voting blocs in America. Now, while that is certainly true, it’s not by accident. Whether we’re talking about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 or making lynching a federal hate crime for the first time in American history, appointing more black women to the appeals court than any of the other president and driving Black unemployment to its lowest point in 50 years, that loyalty hasn’t been expected. It’s been earned.

Now as the pundits increasingly talk about Black men as a determining swing vote, that loyalty can’t be taken for granted. That’s why it’s more important than ever, as we look to the coming elections, for Democrats to speak directly with Black men, not just to brag about where we’ve been, but to chart a course together for where we’re going next.

It’s the issues that matter and, regardless of what the stereotypes say, those issues go well beyond criminal justice reform.


Let’s talk about the fact that Black men in the United States have the lowest life expectancy and suffer worse health than any other racial group in America.

Black men are 30% more likely to die from heart diseaseand 60% more likely to die from stroke than white men. We have higher rates of oral cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS and we’re 75% less likely to have health insurance than white men.

It’s no secret. Ask any health professional and they’ll tell you that Black men are dying young at an alarming rate and it’s driven by racial discrimination, mass incarceration, poor health education and the lack of affordable health services. What’s more this constant stress coupled with the shared traumas of George Floyd, Tyre Nichols and more have created a mental health crisisin the Black community, specifically among Black men.

In fact, the suicide rate among Black men is not only significantly higher than white men, but also the third leading cause of death for Black men aged 15 to 24.

Now add that to the staggering numbers on gun violence, one of our biggest public health issues, and you’ll see that Black Ammericans suffer 10 times the gun homicides and 18 times the gun assault injuries as white Americand and firearm deaths among Black men are currently at a 28-year high.

Now, don’t get me wrong, from passing the Affordable Care Act to capping prescription drug costs, we’ve done a great deal not only to address the health disparities facing the Black community but also to make quality healthcare more affordable for and accessible to all Americans. But we haven’t done enough…not nearly enough.


Let’s talk about the fact that, according to the latest numbers reported by Annie E Casey Kids Count, 84% of Black fourth-graders are scoring below grade level for reading proficiency and roughly 91% of Black eighth-graders score below grade level in math.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, one out of every ten Black children grow up in a home where the head of that household doesn’t have a high school diploma. On top of that, Black students are routinely suspended for minor infractions like dress code violations or a cell phone in class. In fact, Black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended from school as white students for the same behavior and, while Black boys make up only 18% of male preschool enrollment, they receive 41% of male preschool suspensions. They’re preschoolers!

And where do these students turn when they’re caught in the school-to-prison pipeline? Where are the role models they can confide in to help turn their lives around? Well, fewer than 7% of America’s teachers are Black and only about 2% are Black men…so they’re not in the classroom.


Let’s talk about jobs. Let’s talk about the fact that median income for black families is about half that of white and more than 4.6 million black children live in households where no parent has a full-time job.

Let’s talk about the fact that when you look at their top occupations, white men are more likely to be managers, first line supervisors, retail salespersons and construction workers while Black men are hired as stock movers, janitors, cooks and security guards with low wages to match.

Now, let’s be clear. In April,the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Black unemployment hit a record low. Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, which includes securing roughly $100 billion in federal contracts for small disadvantaged and Black-owned businesses, more Hispanic entrepreneurs started small businesses in 2021 than they had in more than a decade and Black entrepreneurship topped its highest rate in 26 years.

But that doesn’t mean the racial wealth gap just disappeared and generations of poverty and neglect can simply be ignored. Yes, This administration has done yeoman’s work. But it’s not “Mission Accomplished.” It’s a good start. What’s next?

and, yes, JUSTICE

Here’s the thing. Pretending that Black men only care about criminal justice reform is no different than trying to buy us off with fried chicken and watermelon. It’s a crude analogy, I know. But it’s accurate…and insulting. Likewise, assuming that every Black voter wants to “defund the police” is also absurd. Go talk to the folks in North Columbia, South Carolina. They don’t want less police. They want better police.

Still, we can’t pretend that criminal justice reform isn’t an issue. But boiling it down to a slogan isn’t going to get the job done.

Let’s talk about the fact that Blacks make up roughly 12% of America’s total population, but 33% of our prison population. Black Americans are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white. At any given moment, one in 81 Black adults in America is serving time in state prison and one in every three Black boys born today can expect to spend at least part of their lives in prison.

We know that Black people are twice as likely as white people to be shot and killed by police officers and Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. But did you know that, according to a 2020 joint study between the University of Michigan, Rutgers and Washington University, cases in which police are responsible for deaths are undercounted by about 50%. In fact,police brutality is the sixth leading cause of death for young black men.

This isn’t a catch phrase. This is reality. And we can’t afford to suffer in silence because silence equals death.

Now, from replacing lead water lines to cutting child poverty in half, we’ve made real progress with the Biden/Harris Administration.

They’ve banned chokeholds and “no knock” warrants from federal law enforcement, signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, championed historic investment for HBCUs across America and made environmental justice, economic equality and voting rights a true priority from day one.

We still have real challenges and those challenges can only be met with real solutions.

But in our commitment to action, we have to look at the whole board so we don’t let the MAGA mayhem makers use our dedication to change as an opportunity for division. They taught us who they were a long time ago and, while I don’t pretend to speak for all of Black America, I don’t need reminding of who they are and what they stand for.

I followed Maya Angelou’s advice. They showed me who they were and I believed them the first time. How about you?

At the end of the day, it’s our choice. It’s our vote. Let’s base it on our issues.

Antjuan Seawright (@antjuansea) is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button