When the Blue Wave helped Democrats retake the House of Representatives, it was carried to victory by African Americans — and particularly black women.
A report released Monday by the NAACP, African American Research Collaborative, and the Advancement Project found that across competitive House elections, 90 percent of black voters supported Democratic candidates.
It also found that 91 percent of black women, 86 percent of black men and 50 percent of white voters think Trump and Republicans are toxic to national politics and use rhetoric to divide the nation. 85 percent of black women and 81 percent of black men felt disrespected by Trump’s rhetoric and 89 percent of black women and 83 percent of black men thought Trump’s rhetoric was a major setback to racial progress.
That disrespect black voters felt is on display in the President’s press conferences. Following the election, the National Association of Black Journalists reprimanded the President for his treatment of black women in the press corps, citing times he said a reporter asked “a lot of stupid questions”, called another “nasty” and said a third’s question about his inspiring white nationalism was “racist”.
“It’s not simply women voting for women,” said Ray Block, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky. “Anger and disrespect, I believe, are motivators for black turnout.”
Thanks to these voters, the Congressional Black Caucus will have nine new members, while the Congressional Hispanic and Asian and Pacific American Caucus will have record membership and women broke the symbolic barrier of 100 seats in the House.
“Those numbers really prove one thing,” said Jamal Watkins, NAACP vice-president of engagement, “If we do the work of reaching infrequent voters, infrequent black voters and infrequent voters of color, then it allows for us to take back our power.”
And with a record number of minority candidates elected from the Blue Wave comes a chance to drive the direction of the Democratic party to better serve communities of color.
“It’s not incumbent on politicians to appeal to a community,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “It’s incumbent on the communities to define the agenda of the party.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.