OnPolitics: Why VP Harris engaging Black men voters matters

The president of the Senate is Vice President Kamala Harris.

Hi, OnPolitics readers.

Our top recommended read for you today comes from reporters Francesca Chambers and Mabinty Quarshie, who published an exclusive story on the quiet efforts by VP Kamala Harris to engage Black men.

Why it matters: The Biden administration appear be responding to criticism that Democrats only care about Black voters during an election, but then fall short on the promises made during the campaign.

The news: Vice President Harris met last week with students and civil rights organizers to "solicit ideas on how the Biden administration can lift up young Black men," Mabinty and Francesca report.

I asked Mabinty to share a bit more about the story:

Sarah Day: Tell us more about the timing. Why is this happening now?

Mabinty: During last year’s midterm cycle there were several stories about how Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams was struggling to attract Black male voters. I went down to Georgia before the midterms and talked with Black men who told me they felt ignored and used by the Democratic Party for votes during elections.

But what they truly wanted was an authentic relationship with politicians who understand their daily lives and are partnering with their communities. Now it appears the Biden administration is taking these critiques seriously and holding listening sessions with Black men and civil rights leaders. This is especially important to do ahead of the 2024 presidential election where Black voters will once again be crucial to Democrats getting another four years of control.

SD: Is there a consensus around what attendees hope will be the outcome of the conversation?

M: Some attendees told USA TODAY they wanted to see legislation or even a policy statement on issues that Black men care about, which includes Black entrepreneurship, voting rights, police reform, student loan debt cancellation.

They also wanted the Biden administration to make it clear to Black men how their participation in the electoral process can lead to better economic opportunities for them.

SD: Your story mentions some of the longstanding inequities and systemic racism faced by Black men in particular. Could you briefly share why this focus is important?

M: Black men were hard hit by the pandemic. They had higher unemployment rates compared to white men. And then add in George Floyd’s murder and the public protests that spread across the world. Several Black men I talked with last year said they feel ignored by politicians and left behind.

Ultimately, Black men want to be leaders in their communities and families. They want to have access to good-paying jobs and homeownership. But they also need policies that can help them overcome the systemic racism they face in society.

SD: What's next?

M: It’s up to Democrats to prove to Black men their taking their concerns seriously. Congress has stalled on legislation that would increase the minimum wage. But there were funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support Black and minority-owned businesses. Attendees did say they wanted some sort of statement or policy proposal from the Biden administration. But we’ll have to wait and see if that does happen.

📲 Keep reading: Democrats have a problem with Black male voters. VP Kamala Harris is quietly trying to fix it

Real quick: Stories you'll want to read

  • National Archives asks former presidents, VPs to check their files: Faced with a steady stream of disclosures about improperly kept classified documents, the National Archives on Thursday asked former presidents and vice presidents to look for any sensitive and potentially top-secret material they might have, according to a source familiar with the matter. What we know about former officials.

  • California Rep. Adam Schiff enters race for Senate seat: Schiff, who became a target of GOP wrath for leading the first impeachment of then-president Donald Trump, Thursday launched his candidacy for the Senate seat that fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein now occupies. Democratic Rep. Katie Porter already announced her candidacy.

  • Video of Paul Pelosi attack will be released: A California judge ordered the home attack on former speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, should be released. How the attack unfolded.

  • What to know about companies linked to Rep. Santos: Companies affiliated with embattled congressman George Santos have drawn scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators, and experts as the newly elected Republican faces increasing political pressure to step down for lying about his background.

📲 More political updates: In today's live blog, catch up on more top news out of Washington, including why you'll see Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why VP Kamala Harris engaging Black men voters matters