Discussion: The “Black” Vote [The S.O.T. Project]

What do Political Candidates Expect from the Minority Communities They Solicit Votes From During Election Seasons?

Every presidential election season, we go through the same political cycle; a spontaneous eruption of forgettable picket signs, followed by ominous television ads guaranteeing imminent destruction if the opposition is elected, followed by a spate of “community outreach” efforts, followed by local and national television appearances on your favorite television/news show…

… Eventually, the charade of smiles and baby-kissing culminates with voters taking turns at the ballot box to cast their individual endorsements for their next societal savior (or in the case of 2016, the lesser of two evils).

Political affiliation aside, politicians from across the nation flock from their capital perches into a selection of diverse communities with hopes of gaining loyal voters. Political candidates usually arrive with messages consistent to their party’s values, regardless of the community. However, it’s quite clear that nominees’ messages differ based on the demographic of the crowd they’re attempting to persuade. As a matter of fact, this phenomenon has already been recognized by the general media as candidates seeking the “(fill in minority group) vote”.

Black Americans are one of a few unique demographic groups that find themselves subjects of relevant conversations during seasons of specific voter outreach. While other demographic categories are formed along specific ideological, gender, or age criteria, the definition of “black american” is broadly defined. For example, even though they have melanated skin complexions, Afro-Latinos living in the U.S. might align more with their Latino side than their “Afro” side. Should individuals who fall into similar examples be forced into categories?

Rhetoric aimed at black americans is often bullet-pointed with promises of improving communities, schooling systems, and social justice with the nuance of having an understanding of black american experiences. Though discrimination based on pigmented skin is a common experience among black americans, the black american experience cannot be labeled and categorized so neatly. Broad statements about black communities and broad solutions for issues which affect black americans are not sufficient. A candidate’s dialogue is rarely about addressing the root causes of the issues that present-day black leaders are currently trying to illuminate.

This lack of understanding on the part of candidates is evidenced in part by a general absence of constructive state sponsored programs aimed at helping and repairing the largely ignored communities where black Americans live.

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