2021’s off-year election cycle was characterized by political upsets and notable absences of key constituencies.
Most notably, Black Americans saw a major decline in voter turnout in Virginia and New Jersey, two key electoral swing states.
New Jersey, a purple or swing state is in jeopardy of having a majority Republican chamber as well as a Republican Governor, reconstituting the power that conservatives lost in the state following Chris Christies “Bridgegate” scandal.
Democratic Governor Phil Murphy is engaged in a tight race with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, with a separation of less than 15,000 votes between them.
But Virginia’s election results are the most shocking. In what should have been a easy reelection for Democratic incumbent Governor Terrie McAuliff, turned out to be dragged out fight that he is projected to lose.
Virginia saw the lowest Black turnout in nearly a decade, with polling places in Fairfax and Essex normally packed with Black faces, ending up largely vacant on election day.
On the ground, Black voters are focused singularly on one issue; cash payment reparations for FBA’s.
“It was like we were begging, just begging any young Black person to vote.” said Martin Alva, who worked as a canvasser for Gov. Terrie McAuliffe for nearly 6 months described the “track work” or door to door inquiries as being the most challenging for all of the canvassers.
“It was weird, whenever it was a Black person that was like under middle age, it was almost a guarantee they were gonna be like “Cut the Check” or they were gonna start talking about money given to other groups.” He explained.
“It was really bizarre for the first few weeks, but it became something we learned to deal with as the campaign went on, though we clearly weren’t as successful as we needed to be.” He finished as his web cam began to lag.
Fairfax supposedly has some 150,000 Black voters, but only elderly Black ballot casters could be seen at First Baptist church, one of the state’s largest voting precincts.
“We were really counting on Fairfax, and the numbers just never really materialized.” Martin emphasized.
Numbers are still coming in for Emporia, but McAuliffe is currently up in a 60 to 40 split, in what many consider to be a poor showing for a county made up primarily of Black constituents.
McAuliff and Virginia Democrats not only ignored the concept of cash payment reparations to FBA’s but outright refused to acknowledge it as a legitimate issue.
“They said over and over again that we’re not gonna talk about that.” He said, alluding to the longtime white political strategy of ‘benign neglect’ towards the Black polity.
“And if we were asked about what we (Democrats) would do for us (Black citizens) they told us to say we’ll focus on voting rights.” Martin reiterated.
“Do you believe that additional voting rights should be considered a relevant issue to Black Americans?” I asked.
“Well, in theory yes. But i personally believe that the party (Democrats) wants to talk about that as like a lead in to Latino voting rights, because when they come speaking to my Mom they tell her about how everyone should be allowed to vote, like they assume she’s here illegally.”
Martin is Black but his mother was born in Puerto Rico.
“So they start out telling her that all Latinos should be allowed to vote, like we’re all illegal, and they always, always, always finish the conversation with what housing or financial benefits we can get as ‘Latin-Xs’ if we vote for them.” He finished.
“What do you consider to be a ‘Latin-X’?” I interjected.
“Basically like any Latino that identifies with multiple sects of Latin heritage, so they don’t call themselves one nationality, just Latin-X.” Martin explained.
“Do you consider yourself to Black, Latin-X, or Afro-Latino?” I asked.
“My Mama, and Abuela told me about the names and brutal attacks they went through down there (Puerto Rico). They said they were always called ‘Negrito’ or a variant of it.”
Martin is referencing the racial slurs hurled at his mother and grandmother in their home country. ‘Negrito’ is a spanish derogatory term meaning ‘nigger’, and is often used to insult indigenous or African descended Latinos.
“So we never had any illusions about who we were, and my Dominican Dad was a Brotha born in the states , so he only further beat into me that we are Black first and foremost, and Puerto Rican only by happenstance. He always stressed that we don’t represent a country but a lineage of people.” He said.
“Do you think that Democrats can rebound with Black voters in the state?” I inquired.
“At this rate, no. In my opinion from the top down its clear that they don’t want to address payments for reparations to Foundational Black Americans, and I think that they would rather lose than to have to do that.” Martin said as he looked down.
“If the other campaigns for the 2022 midterms are anything like this, then no. I think its clear that they’re planning on ignoring us, and going straight to any other group like Latinos or Asians.” He explained.
“Do you think the Black media has been effective at pushing for allocation of resources to the Black community?” I asked.
“To be honest, yall have become so effective that we now are avoiding doing any kind of big rallies or public events because we really don’t have enough staff to sit throughout the crowd.” He said.
The “staff” Martin is talking about is his fellow canvassers and campaign organizers who are paid overtime to attend large events held by candidates. The intended goal is to make sure the crowd gives “appropriate reactions” to candidate talking points or policy proposal.
However, within the last 2 years Martin has noticed that most of the local and statewide campaigns he’s participated in have avoided any type of public social events involving Black people.
“Its beyond obvious at this point. We’re okay to go to little Korea and walk the block with candidates, but if they ask us to go to Richmond or god forbid southside D.C. then they immediately suggest a Skype call or request that we call a pastor or police chief ahead of time so that they can just make it a ‘invitation only’ event.” He explained.
“So they’ve gone from ignoring us, to running from us, to just accepting defeat?” I jokingly asked.
“I think that they’ve made up their mind that they would rather lose every election than to bow to us.” Martin finished.
Well, the Black polity can certainly assist with that.
B. Williams reporting from Davenport Fl, home of the 3rd annual All Black National Conventional
–Barrington Williams, B1Daily