The first presidential debate might as well be described as an exercise in futility when it comes to what Black women want out of this election.
Debate moderator, Lester Holt brought up race in broad terms, asking both candidates Clinton and Trump what they would do to bring racial healing in light of recent murders by police in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Trump invoked the now unconstitutional “Stop and Frisk” saying he would re-implement it. Clinton made debate history by asking everyone to check their implicit bias that ultimately leads to tragedies like those we’ve seen play out in Ferguson, Baltimore and Charlotte.
But what does this ultimately mean for women of color? How does this translate to Black women getting their needs met come Election Day?
Black women are a powerful voting block at the ballot box. In 2008 and 2012, 70 percent of eligible women cast ballots accounting for the highest voter turnout of any racial or gender group, giving Barack Obama the margin he needed to win two presidential terms.
Black women’s engagement has demonstrated that they are the building blocks to a winning coalition. What is lesser well known are the myriad issues important to Black women voters and how the candidates actively lobbying for our critical votes will address them. These issues include economic dignity, parity in education, legislation that ends police overreach and quality affordable housing.
What we heard Monday night spoke to very little of this. It was encouraging to hear Secretary Clinton open her remarks with pay equity and universal child care, both of which if enacted by our next President would impact Black women’s lives immeasurably.
But it is also why #BlackWomenVote is calling on all Black women across the country to help us mobilize more Black women than ever. Regardless of who is elected to hold the highest office in our land, our voting power must go beyond the Presidential election and continue all the way down to state and local officials.
In fact, this November, 34 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and all of the 435 House of Representative seats are up for election. There are Governors races in 12 states and 5,920 of the country’s 7,383 State Legislative seats are up for election. There are municipal elections in 46 of the country's 100 largest cities including 25 Mayors races.
What Black women want are long-term initiatives and strategies able to secure the future of their families, communities and neighborhoods. Black women want investments in education, the roads they drive their children to schools on, safe schools for their children to attend. Black women want economic dignity, equal pay for equal work and an end to discriminatory practices across the board whether that be in employment, education or the environment.
The Late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan once said, “What the people want is very simple. They want an American as good as its promise.” The issues important to Black women matter all the time, not just during presidential elections. This November after casting their votes, Black women will work to ensure the return on their voting investment beyond Election Day.