Now that President-elect Joe Biden’s landslide victory has been confirmed by the General Services Administration and the votes have been certified in key swing states including Pennsylvania and Michigan, the bill to the Black community is due.
You might think my language is too matter-of-fact, perhaps even too transactional. However, after four years of lies from Donald Trump, I think it’s time for some straight talk.
So, here’s the truth. Joe Biden’s campaign was rescued by Black voters in South Carolina who understood that Biden was the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump. Black voters in Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit gave Biden the cushion he needed to win the swing states that propelled him to victory. Now that the battle is over, it is time to divide the spoils, and Black people are rightly at the front of the line.
It is not enough to create programs that purport to address problems that are typically—and often wrongly—associated with the Black community. We’ve learned that programs like welfare do not eradicate poverty. We’ve learned that federal job training programs are often ineffective, offering services that don’t raise the earnings of participants or meet the needs of employers. We’ve learned that infrastructure programs provide employment for white male-dominated building trade unions that often freeze Black people out of job opportunities.
So, with all due respect to the President-elect, Black folks don’t want programs or promises. We want results.
That means when Joe Biden talks about job creation, he has to make sure that the Black folks who voted him into office actually get the jobs, instead of getting the shaft. This is not to say we want everything. We just want our fair share.
We understand that when Biden announces a huge construction project, he has to take care of the Building Trades unions. However, we also know there was a huge divide between those unions’ leaders and the many white male members who voted for Trump. In fact, in the days leading up to the election, Politico obtained internal polling from North America’s Building Trades Unions, and found that 47% of their members in six swing states supported Trump.
I know I don’t need to remind anyone, but I’ll do it anyway. According to the Associated Press, 90% of Black voters supported Joe Biden, with just 8% supporting Trump. Let’s review: 90% of Black folks … 47% of Building Trades members. So, when Biden’s people get together to start giving out those infrastructure jobs, I need them to consult with someone who can count, and distribute the jobs accordingly.
Not only do we want real jobs in exchange for our votes. We also want cabinet positions. That means putting Black people in positions where they will not only decide on policy, but also carry it out. I’m excited to see Linda Thomas-Greenfield tapped to become the United Nations Ambassador. A Black woman who’s spent 35 years in the foreign service, she is more than qualified to occupy that position. I am elated that Kamala Harris, a Black woman of South Asian descent, is the Vice President-elect.
But let me be clear. When I say we want Black people in cabinet positions, I’m not taking lumping us in with people of color. No. I’m talking about offering cabinet-level opportunities to the highly qualified Black people who have too often been left out, looked over, and held back.
Last, but certainly not least, we want the one thing that Joe Biden can do to help every Black person in America. We want him to engage in a full-on frontal assault against racism in all its forms.
Black people voted Donald Trump out because at least 80% of us believe he is racist. We voted him out because he enabled and then nurtured an atmosphere of racial and ethnic hate. We voted Trump out because he called white supremacists who marched through Charleston “good people.” We voted him out because he too often seemed to support the killings of unarmed Black people by police.
If Joe Biden is to prove worthy of our votes, he must work feverishly to replace that racial hatred with true opportunity. Otherwise, we will take on the philosophy of every Black mother who ever lived: We put you in that office. We’ll take you out.