What’s happening in the
Democratic Party saddens me. If Joe Biden secures the party’s
nomination it will have been because of one demographic – older
Black voters. Bernie Sanders has garnered the lion’s share of
support from every other left-leaning demographic. I hope I’m
wrong, but it looks like the older Black vote will make the decision
and it will be Joe Biden.
of this writing, Biden has secured 890 pledged delegates while
Sanders has 736. The candidate who gets to 1,991 delegates will be
the party’s choice to go up against Trump in November. Yes,
with 31 primaries and caucuses remaining, it is numerically possible
for Sanders to recover (click here to see the LA Progressive Delegate
Count sheet – updated daily).
and this is a big but, upcoming races in states like Florida,
Georgia, Louisiana, Delaware, Maryland and others where there are
large Black populations make a Sanders’ victory
unlikely—especially if the older Black voters perform anything
like the way they performed in South Carolina, North Carolina, and
Mississippi and the younger Black turnout continues to be
ago, the Association for the Study of African American Life and
History (ASALH) announced that 2020 would be the year of “African
Americans and the Vote.” Founded Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the
man behind Black History Month, ASALH has announced a new theme each
year since the turn of the 20th century.
year marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting
women the right to vote. It also marks the sesquicentennial of the
Fifteenth Amendment (1870) granting black men the right to vote.
Given this, it’s overwhelmingly appropriate for ASALH to have
chosen “African Americans and the Vote” as the theme for
2020 but equally ironic is that at this pivotal point in American
history, it will be older African Americans who decide the fate of
am an older Black American and I’m also a staunch Bernie
Sanders supporter. I have some sense as to why older African
Americans have largely ignored Sanders and to some extent, ignored
the progressive movement.
speak from personal experience when I say that, all too often, it
seems as if we (older Black people) are only an afterthought. I
cannot count the hundreds of events I’ve attended to support
progressive causes where I’ve been the only older Black person
in the room.
I’ve written in the past, we continue to live segregated lives
in this country. Even though state-mandated segregation was ruled
unconstitutional more than sixty years ago, the vast majority of
Americans—including progressives (young and old)—live,
work, and play among people who are racially like them.
bet most, if not all, of my white progressive friends and colleagues
wouldn’t think of belonging to a club that expressly excludes
Blacks. But many of these same people live, work and play in racially
racial segregation is the norm in this country. Sadly, this behavior
bleeds over into places of employment, places of worship and into our
politics. It is the reason we have to be intentional about reversing
it. And we must reverse it in order for the progressive movement to
be a seriously impactful movement. Racial splintering divides and
weakens us—and the enemies of progressive political change and,
especially, racial justice know that and exploit it.
Black people ignore the movement because the movement ignores
them—until, however, it’s time to vote.
Biden has been cultivating relationships in the Black community for
decades. He understands these relationships are as important and in
some cases more important than his voting record. I could spend more
time explaining why this is so but that’s a message for another
time. I’ll close by saying, with older Black voters holding the
keys, there should have been—and should now be—an
intensive and highly intentional effort to include older Blacks at
every level where serious progressive organizing is occurring.
that happens, none of us will get the revolution we all so
desperately want and need.
commentary was originally published by LAProgressive.com