Political organization

Black women’s political organizing makes a difference

By ReShonda Tate | Defender Network | word in black

This Publish was originally published on Advocate Network

This article is the latest of several Defender Network 2022 articles that are part of the Solutions Journalism Network’s Advancing Democracy initiative. Solutions journalism is about not only reporting on problems, but also providing readers with research on solutions to those problems, where they are being implemented, the challenges and opportunities those solutions provide, and the things that readers can do to be part of these solutions. The Advancing Democracy Initiative invites participating media to produce stories that focus on issues that threaten American democracy and offer readers initiatives to save or “advance” democracy.

(WIB) – When Houston native Grace Smith cast her ballot in the March 2022 midterm elections, it was the first time she had voted since voting for President Barack Obama. It’s a fact she’s ashamed of now, but the oil and gas administrator just didn’t believe her vote really mattered. She credits black women’s PAC for changing that mindset. And now, not only has she pledged to vote, but she’s pledged to help the political organization pursue its mission.

“I’m not really into politics. Of course, the election of Barack Obama was historic, so I made it a point to vote there. But those little elections – city council, school boards, etc., just didn’t seem important – until I attended a black women’s PAC event that opened my eyes to why it is so important to us to not just vote in elections, but run in those elections and come together collectively as black women to support qualified candidates as well,” Smith said.

This event – ​​the Politics, Policy and Donor Summit – took place in December 2021 and is just one of many events the Black Women’s PAC is hosting in its efforts to provide information and knowledge to voters. , candidates, political insiders and novices.

“Participants at the donor summit heard from the state’s top political and political leaders as we discussed current laws and what to expect in the wake of redistricting, voting rights limitations and the community activism with policy experts,” said Black Women’s PAC President Tracy Scott.

A huge void

Black women are underrepresented in government, especially when it comes to growth. Black women make up 7.8% of the population, but only make up 5% of the elected population.

Black women have long been staples of the Democratic Party. But they haven’t been as institutionally supported in their efforts to run for office – until recently.

The Black Women’s PAC is a political organization dedicated to electing more black women to state and national office. They are gaining momentum, thanks to an influx of money since last summer’s protests and the rise of black women in American politics, from Vice President Kamala Harris to Georgian organizer and presidential candidate. Governor Stacey Abrams.

Organizations like the Black Women’s PAC hope events like the summit and rallies will not only increase voter engagement and awareness, but inspire Black women to put their names on the ballot.

“We’re doing something called Kitchen Table Talk, where we’ve brought together elected officials, campaign strategists, and political insiders to discuss the journey and presence of black women in politics. We also talk a lot about fundraising, which is a key part of political action and power,” Scott said.

While black women generally lag behind in fundraising, six of the 10 congressional candidates who raised the most money in the last quarter of 2021 were black or Latino, a result of crucial racial diversity and a change in political fundraising focus and strategy as a whole, according to an analysis by CQ Roll Call.

“I’ve been involved in political campaigns in the past and I’m very aware of the importance of fundraising and knowing the inequalities between women and men, and black women and white women,” Scott said. . “I felt the need to build political infrastructure and encourage and support black women who want to run for office and who are already in office.”

Scott said that in addition to events and rallies, the group created a website to allow people to register to vote and check their registration status; organized fundraisers; and hosted an event to honor new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, where they brought in celebrities to help shine a light on voting disparities.

Work in progress

Although their efforts are still ongoing and it is difficult to measure their success, Scott is confident that these efforts are paying off. Traffic to their website has increased by over 70% and attendance at their voter outreach and engagement events has increased by over 50% since the launch of CAP in 2018.

“When we’re talking about advancing democracy and we’re talking about government as it exists, well, now we have a black woman on the Supreme Court,” Scott said. “He was a mainstay of the black women’s PAC from the start. We had committed to having a black woman as president or vice-president, and now Kamala Harris is in office.

Scott doesn’t take all the credit for Jackson or Vice President Harris, but she does know that efforts like those of her organization and other political action organizations play a role.

Groups like Scott’s, as well as Higher Heights, the Collective PAC, #BlackWomenVote and American Mosaic PAC see 2022 as a great opportunity to elect more black women to leadership at the highest levels, especially as there are more attention than ever to the key role this cohort plays as the Democratic Party’s most committed voting bloc.

“This moment has taken more than 10 years to prepare,” said Glynda Carr, CEO of Higher Heights for America, which supports progressive black women at the national and state levels.

Most politicians think in two- and four-year increments; Carr is thinking longer term. She said that to elect black women to the highest political office, groups like hers spend years organizing to pave the way for candidates. They establish a solid base game and a reliable donor base and – perhaps the most difficult – get top donors and senior party officials to invest in their candidates.

Higher heights and other organizations are also holding boot camps for both potential black candidates and their top employees. And now they’re declaring their support for black women who come forward much earlier than before — sometimes within hours of their campaign launching.

The work continues

Scott would like to see black women progress outside of predominantly black neighborhoods.

“If black women can work anywhere, live anywhere, why can’t we represent anywhere?” said Scott. “This is an area where we are not advancing democracy and where we really need to target and focus. Going forward, our goal is to have these difficult conversations, to advance the Democratic platform, and to open more doors for black women.

Scott said that until black women have a seat at EVERY table, their job is not done.

“We’re still struggling at Texas House, and our voices are desperately needed there,” Scott said. “I see a policy that is written by the Black Women’s PAC. Now we want to see more black women running, giving back to the community.

There is also a funding issue – black women generally have less money to run; and then there’s the fact that in such a divided society, some women just don’t want the drama that comes with politics these days.

Scott said they also need to work hard to convince the Democratic Party to stay focused and committed to the black community.

“I remember being on the Democratic Party 2020 forum and having to say very clearly that if the party doesn’t speak to the smallest of us, if we don’t meet the Democrats where they are, then we don’t. We’re not going to win and we’re going to keep having the same problem,” Scott said.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from doing this work is to release expectations. Black women aren’t monolithic. We span that spectrum and there are so many spaces in which we need to voice our issues. and where we are in life and be more active and active.

“We know what the problem is. So we regularly ask ourselves, are we doing enough to have these conversations and engage people in society? So we’re always taking a step back and reassessing how we operate, who we engage, who our target is,” Scott said. “We have made progress. I’m excited, but not happy. I won’t be until there’s an African American woman on the ballot in all 254 counties.

The PAC for black women is committed to helping develop, build, train, fund and grow the political and intellectual infrastructure necessary to help black women win elections and govern successfully once elected and to empower black women as political donors to support the election of more black women to public office across the state of Texas.

#BlackWomenVote is a non-partisan campaign of electoral activism that provides black women with the tools and information they need to engage their communities, regardless of their political party.