Seeking the Black Vote

With the growing number of Democrats joining the 2020 Presidential race, there is one candidate that truly stands out: Former Vice-President Joe Biden. This will be the third time that Joe Biden has run for presidency, but this time he is on a mission. Biden has been trying to rack up as much support from Black Caucus lawmakers, who he hopes will further assist him in getting the African American vote. So far, the former vice-president has gained support from three Black lawmakers, one in particular is Representative Donald McEachin from Virginia. McEachin stated that Joe Biden would need to do more than try to seek support from Congressional Black Caucus members , he also must “ …be out there with people, meeting folks and reminding them who he is. If he does that, which I know he will do, I’m absolutely confident he will be the next president.” But this isn’t the first time that we have seen a White politician seek the support of minorities.

In class, we learned about how politicians like John F. Kennedy, who created policies to help people of color (ex: affirmative action). Yet as Thomas Surge pointed out in Affirmative Action from Below , those holding the power in society knew that the policies were “weak”, difficult to enforce and lead to forms of resistance such as reverse discrimination. As the presidential race continues, it will be interesting to see the types of promises that Biden will make for minorities and people of color during his campaign and how he plans to tackle current issues within today’s society once he becomes president. Or will he straddle the fence and make legislation that appears to help minorities, but only work for those in power?

Black Politicians and the Run for Presidency

“Whenever the occupant in the White House fails to respond to the just demands of human need, the independent army will bring their concerns to the Black House to their President-in-Exile”- Dick Gregory. With our recent discussions on Black politics, it’s important to note Black pioneers that ran for the presidential candidacy. Before Obama, there have been many other Black individuals that have tried run for president of the United States. Such individuals are Black Panther leader Elderidge Cleaver, former leader of the all-Black freedom Now Party Paul Boutelle, and Black feminist and labor organizer Charlene Mitchell. With the shift in the Black voting patterns during the 1968 elections from Republican to Democrat it become more apparent Blacks needed representation and wanted Black politicians that represented their needs. At the Democratic Convention 1968, Channing E. Phillips, a Black minister and civil rights leader, became the first African American to be nominated for president of the United States.

Even though there were Black politicians that stated they were for the Black community within the Democratic Party, many within the Black community were unhappy with the progress made by the two-party system. Many noticed that Black elected officials had limited ways in which they could alter the political atmosphere. On March 1969, comedian Dick Gregory took a stand to tackle issues such as ending the Vietnam War, bad housing, education and discrimination within the Black community. Gregory toured the country, focusing on college campuses and local events within the Black communities to promote his campaign of becoming the first black president.

Avoiding the limited conditions set by the two-party system, Gregory, Mitchell, Cleaver and Boulle instead became part of minority party presidential campaigns that catered to the needs and wants within the Black community. The campaigns of these four individuals led the trail for what they believed a Black presidency and Black freedom may look like.

Much Support, Little Respect

Within the last week, Canadian singer Daniel Caesar, during a drunken rant, made a comment on Instagram Live asking his Black fans, “Why are we being so mean to white people right now? “  His question arose after YesJulz, a White media personality, made racist and anti-Black comments. Mr. Caesar continued to state that Black people are not “on top” because “we can’t haven’t gotten with the strategy of the winning team”.

Its is disappointing to learn that an artist with so many Black fans and has such a huge media presence can make such an outlandish comments.  Even in a drunken state, his words have a profound effect. But there are a few facts that Mr. Caesar fails to realize: 1) The criticism that YesJulz is facing is not to be mean, but to make her realize that her comments and actions offend a large number of people within society and could lead to negative societal effects. 2) Associating the “winning team” with race is absurd. It is true that most executives and producers within the entertainment industry are White however, to connect their race with success and ignore the success and struggles of Black and other minorities within the industry is wrong

     Other celebrities (Waka Flocka, Tammy Rivera),  have reacted to Daniel Caesars comments stating that because he is Canadian he may not understand the struggles Black people face in America. But discrimination is something that is faced all over the world, not just in America. It is how people respond to discrimination that makes a difference. Hopefully, this is a learning experience for Mr. Caesar, that its important to understand the cultural and political climate in another country before making such strong comments. Most importantly, Daniel Caesar should understand that in the fast-paced, get-famous-quick world that we live in, the same support that was used to build his musical profession can easily be turned into opposition that ruins his career.

The Runaway Slave Game

Recently a Virginia Elementary School was criticized for allowing students to play a game where students pretended to be runaway slaves while navigating an obstacle course meant to represent the Underground Railroad. To add to the disappointing news, an African American student was designated as the “slave” for the game.

There are many obvious wrongs within this scenario, but what really stands out the most is the miseducation of slavery that the school was teaching the students. Instead of learning about the serious subject matter of the historical enslavement of Africans within the classroom, the school officials made mockery of the historical subject with a game.

Although the school has sent a letter following the incident apologizing for the event that transpired, more needs to be done in regards to the teaching of such subject matter. A suggestion for the educators that allowed for the “Runaway Slave Game” to occur would be to undergo a cultural competency course that would encourage the appropriate manner of teaching young children about slavery.

Racism Continues to Find Its Way Through the Fashion Industry

By: Adebola Bamidele

Recently, the international brand Gucci went under fire for their release of a wool Balaclava Jumper sweater featuring a Caucasian model wearing the sweater slightly up to her nose with bright, red lips surrounding a slit where her mouth pokes through. It was quite obvious to many individuals that the piece of clothing was offensive because the sweater gave off the impression of blackface (makeup and materials used to make a nonblack performer play a black role). The clothing brand has recently apologized on its social media platform, but the picture has gone viral since its release date and has many individuals upset. While in the midst of trying to rectify their brand, Gucci posted a picture of a Black woman holding one of their purses above her head. Other brands in the past such as H&M and Prada have also undergone scrutiny due to their racial products.

It’s unsettling to know that there are individuals on the design team that sat around and decided to create a sweater with previous racial ties. Many African American celebrities have stepped forward and have stated that they will be boycotting designers that have incorporated racist elements in their brands. The same celebrities also are asking their fans and supports to buy from underrepresented designers that they believe are not offensive.

In the future, it would be good to see more diversity in the design planning room, that way more brands avoid having to deal with racial issues. It would also be nice to see more celebrities or individuals of influence who are courageous enough to call out brands they believe are discriminatory to their fans.