Hi, OnPolitics readers.
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.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why VP Kamala Harris engaging Black men voters matters