Black Voters Showed Up in 2020, Now What?

Each election cycle Black folks are lectured to about voting. We’re inundated with false generalizations about low voter turnout and we all know people who always want to talk about when the Popeyes chicken sandwich craze swept the nation last year, “Black folks stood in line for that sandwich but won’t stand in line to vote,” as if people of all racial groups don’t like Popeyes…shut up.

If I’ve learned nothing else in 2020, it is that Black people have so much power and things can actually change when we flex that power. We saw it earlier this year with the protests sparked by the murders of Black women and men at the hands of police officers. Following the protests, nearly every major corporation, nonprofit and governmental entity reimagined the way they dealt with race. I’m still waiting on broad legislative police reform but, I mean, Netflix did add “Moesha”, “The Parkers” and “The Game” as atonement, so I guess I should be happy with that.

In all seriousness, Black voters (especially Black women) are the reason that the Democratic Party is viable and also why Joe Biden is seemingly going to become the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris will ultimately become the first Vice-President that hasn’t been an old white man.

While whites typically have the highest voter turnout relative to other racial groups (probably because nobody is actively trying to suppress their vote), Black people consistently have higher voter turnout than Hispanics and Asians. In fact, Black voter turnout was within 1 percentage point of whites in 2008 (65.2% vs. 66.1%) and it was actually higher than whites in 2012 (66.6% vs. 64.1%). In 2016, voter turnout for Black people dipped to 59.6%. While that number was lower than whites (65.3%), it was still higher than Asians (49.3%) and Hispanics (47.6%).

The fact that the presidency is being decided largely by votes coming out of cities that are heavily populated by Black people in key battleground states tells you all you need to know.

If we look at the maps of Democratic support across the nation, even in places that are deeply red and full of low income, racist bamas, like my home state of Arkansas, most of the gains are in areas where Black voters make up a large portion of voters.

A conversation about the 2020 Presidential election is impossible without a shoutout to Stacey Abrams, a national treasure and the architect of Biden’s surge in Georgia. Waking up this morning (Friday, November 6) to news that Joe Biden led donald trump in the state was the exact energy boost we all needed! In 2018, Ms. Abrams became the first Black woman to win the Democratic nomination for governor and lost in a tight race to the Republican Brian Kemp. Since that time, she has helped register 800,000 new voters in Georgia; that is major!

The United States was built by Black women and men. Black people always show up, even when candidates or the party don’t technically deserve our commitment. Our support is saving the Democratic Party and it is well beyond time that the Democratic Party amplify the voices of Black people with more intensity and show appreciation for Black voters always coming through when needed most.

I have full faith that the Biden-Harris administration will not fumble this opportunity to “do right by Black folks”. I hope that four years from today, on November 6, 2024 that I am able to revisit this piece and not feel let down.

Mel Clayton is a native of Pine Bluff, AR and an alumnus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas-Clinton School of Public Service. He went to law school for a semester and a half at the University of Arkansas but he hated that shit.
Mel is an avid lover of music and has dedicated his life to sharing authentic Black stories and experiences through his research and writing. He hopes that everyone who reads his publications will be impacted on a spiritual level.
He lives his life according to the mantra, “Trust yourself and follow the energy.”
Instagram: @melclayton_92 | Twitter: @melclayton_92

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