Why is it that most Anglo Democratic candidates, at least in Texas, are afraid to publicly support issues relevant to the African-American experience, like police brutality and racial profiling, yet expect our vote at the polls? Most only come to our churches, civic club meetings, political organizations, etc. during campaign season but are wholly invisible to us in between election cycles. Why is it that during campaign season African-Americans who look like us bring Anglo Democratic candidates to our churches to ask for our vote yet we aren’t afforded the same opportunity?
Some argue that as Texas goes the nation goes, which is why Houston, Harris County, Texas is important in the equation of whether Democrats take over Texas. A Democratic takeover will necessarily help historically oppressed people, including African-Americans. Democrats pandering to moderate Republicans and Independents and ignoring our base coalition is a mistake; that strategy is a loser. To that end, Anglo Democratic candidates need to follow President Obama’s lead.
When Democrats win it’s generally based on coalition politics that normally include African-Americans, Latinos, women, progressive Anglos, GLBT and other discriminated against groups. That’s why President Obama won. He spoke to issues that affect our coalition notwithstanding criticism. He’s had platforms on immigration for Latinos and other immigrants; marriage equality for the GLBT and race-relations, racial profiling, excessive force, Trayvon Martin and Professor Henry Louis Gates, for African-Americans.
Some mainstream media appears not to understand the significance of Ferguson nationwide. Hint, Hint: African-Americans everywhere care about the outcome because Michael Brown could be our son. He’s just the most recent example of how our boys and men are not valued in this country. All Democratic candidates should pay attention. It matters to us.
News Flash: African-Americans are tired of being so openly and notoriously targeted. Gone are the days where we don’t have options. We’ve learned and seen, thankfully, that we have choices; that we don’t have to vote for people who don’t motivate and inspire us and speak to issues that will change the historic discrimination reaped upon us. The criminal justice system is one of the most important issues in our daily lives because it affects whole families and our ability to succeed. The unfairness of this system increases the level of single, grandparent or relative households raising children. It affects our financial struggles; our affordable and safe housing and employment opportunities, to name a few.
As much as I hate to say this as a Democrat, and member of the State Democratic Executive Committee, most African-Americans in Texas are not motivated to actually go out and vote for Sen. Wendy Davis.
We know that Sen. Davis filibustered 13 hours to protect women’s rights and has recently campaign-promised to get rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault yet we have not heard her speak to the reformation of the unjust criminal justice system that profiles and incarcerates African-Americans and Latinos at a much higher rate than that of Anglos; or the disparate sentencing that generally sentences Anglos more leniently; or the bogus probable cause that is used to arrest African-Americans and Latinos and not Anglos; or what about laws to punish rogue cops? When we do try to punish them they are often put on paid leave; they almost always appeal; and almost always successfully get their jobs back.
As I watch the Ferguson fiasco I am reminded that although I live in Texas that the plight of African-Americans around this country is the same. We, African-Americans, are afraid for ourselves generally and especially afraid for our sons. For us it is a matter of life and death and the quality of life for our families. So even if I initially was speaking of my home state of Texas, this message is to all Democrats, especially in red states: If you want African-Americans to come out and vote for you, then speak strongly and proudly to our issues. If you don’t and you keep on tip toeing around us then the November elections will show you better than I can tell you. For the record, I will be voting for Sen. Wendy Davis but please remember: African-Americans may not alone decide who wins whatever election but our bloc of votes often times is the swing vote that decides if the Democrat gets elected. President Obama understood that. The question is will Democrats follow his lead?
Jolanda Jones is a former at-large Houston City Council Member and current member of the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee. She is a single mom, small business owner, criminal defense lawyer and regular analyst, commentator and guest contributor for various media sources including television, radio, print and social. She is a 4-time national track & field champion and community activist and life skills coach/motivator.