When National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. heralded 2018 as “payback year,” for African Americans and other minorities who have suffered on the new presidential administration policies, it seems Black women were in lockstep with Chavis.
Two years into the presidency of Donald Trump — which has seen an onslaught of attacks on health care, reproductive and other rights — the stakes for Black women this midterm cycle could not be higher, according to many observers.
Statistics have revealed that Black women face disproportionate barriers to reproductive health care and are more likely to die after childbirth than their White or Latino counterparts.
Also, women of color are disproportionately impacted by bans on insurance coverage for abortion and at risk for criminalization should abortion be made illegal once again.
“Black women in America face significant barriers to health care, including abortion. We are also three times more likely to die after childbirth than white women,” said La’Tasha D. Mayes, founder and executive director of New Voices for Reproductive Justice, a nonprofit that promotes the complete health and well-being of Black women and girls.
“The Trump presidency has repeatedly undermined the Affordable Care Act and other health programs that benefit the health of Black women,” Mayes said. “Black women will step up and vote for those who will work together with us to create health equity so that our families and communities can thrive.”
The pain of Black women and their rising up as one has also been heard in the LGBTQ community, said Candace Bond-Theriault, a reproductive health, rights and justice policy counsel and democracy project director at the National LGBTQ Task Force.
“We too are a part of the American body politic and though the system is broken, we demand a seat at the table so we can center our own experiences and stories and vote for candidates who are dedicated to our collective liberation,” Bond-Theriault said. “All of the issues that we care about — living in neighborhoods with safe drinking water, nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQIA folks, and access to safe, legal abortion — are always on the ballot because the legislators we elect will make decisions that affect our everyday lives.”
In a series examining the role of women in the 2018 midterm elections, NPR noted that more than a year and a half ago, the day after Trump was inaugurated, millions of women worldwide took to the streets in fury over his election.
It was a massive show of resistance. One of the biggest questions that loomed over the demonstrations that day: Could the energy last?
Amy Chomsky, an ophthalmologist from Nashville, attended the demonstration in D.C., and she wanted to make it clear that she and her fellow marchers were serious in their anger.
“We’re not just crazy protesters,” she said the day of the march. “It’s a shame that we have to still be fighting for women’s rights or saying that we have a right to decide on our own reproductive health. We have a right to equal pay. It’s a shame that we’re still doing this.”
Already, a record number of women have run and won primaries for the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governorships this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, and a record number of women have also won nominations for state legislatures; the vast majority are Democrats.
In particular, according to the NPR series, Black women have relatively high turnout rates, and they vote heavily Democratic.
For instance, Black women in Alabama propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate seat — a remarkable political upset — in a December special election, and they also helped push Ralph Northam to a win that was larger than predicted in most polls in his 2017 election for the Virginia governorship.
In a feature on ‘How 2018 became the year of the Black Progressive,” Politico noted that 2018 may well be remembered as the political “Year of the Black Progressive,” much as 1992 was the “Year of the Woman.”
The online publication noted that Black women are taking office as mayors in major cities such as San Francisco and New Orleans.
Record-breaking numbers of black candidates are running for office at the state level.
No fewer than three black candidates are being seriously discussed as presidential nominees.
And with gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida and congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley in Boston, Democrats have nominated young, Black, progressives where they typically would nominate white moderates.
“No matter the outcome, this election results will give us a taste of what to expect in the next presidential race,” Politico’s Theodore R. Johnson wrote. “Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as well as former Governor Deval Patrick, will be watching how black progressives fare this year very closely before making their decisions on whether (and how) to embark on a presidential run.
“Trump and the Republican Party will be paying attention, too,” he wrote. “The nation will be tuned in to see if this is truly the year of black progressives, or if they’re just the flavor of the month.”