Let’s get this out of the way first; spoiler alert: I am not advocating for Black Americans to consider voting for a Republican in the 2024 presidential election.
Now, with that behind us, I can tear into Biden’s anti-climactic re-election announcement yesterday.
I made some of my feelings clear about President Biden last year after his loathsome 2022 State of the Union Address. In fact, that speech left such a bad taste in my mouth it spurned the genesis of BLK News Now! I can’t say I am surprised to see nothing has changed in protecting Black Americans, seeking justice for Black victims, investing in Black communities, etc. Biden — and VP Kamala Harris — have not moved the needle far on key issues in the Black community in the 2+ years they’ve held office.
Biden is apparently hoping that 3:04 minutes of MAGA fear porn will be enough to stimulate the Black vote. But watching the video, aware that Black priorities are on the back burner again only rubbed me the wrong way.
Just one second into the re-election video, we’re introduced to what President Biden seems to be hinging his re-election campaign on: fear. Immediately, Biden’s re-election video fades up revealing the nation’s capitol entrenched in chaos from none other than the Jan. 6 insurrection. I paused the video at the one second mark, because I was in disbelief Democrats want to use the lingering stench of Donald Trump’s presidency to motivate voters. (Yes, I saw the one second flash to the Roe v. Wade protest, but I’m sure it was deliberate to cast doubt on what the focus will be as we all gear up to watch the next set of Joe Biden’s follies along the 2024 campaign trail.)
Was this really necessary? Isn’t Trump on the campaign trail enough for the sane to vote anti-MAGA?
Instead of a vision of what progress under a Joe Biden America would look like, we, all Americans, are left with a choice of neo-fascism and neutralizing neo-fascism. Yes, Biden is also calling for job creation. What’s new about that? Granted, credit is given where credit is due: despite a tumultuous, blunder-sprinkled presidency thus far, Biden and Harris have gotten some work done. The semi-conductor, and infrastructure bills, and PACT Act, which expands VA benefits for veterans who were exposed to deadly, toxic chemicals and substances while serving their country. But it’s a sad state of affairs that we have to pat any administration — and Congress — on the back for signing three pieces of wide-reaching legislation.
The pressing issues for us will not just be the bungling or the gaffes we should anticipate from Biden, like weaponizing Blackness for a vote. Instead, Black America is left with a laundry list of legislative “priorities” that have been anything but in the Biden Administration. Here’s what Black America has asked for, and what we have — or have not — received.
- Police Reform
Calls for sweeping police reforms mobilized voters in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. While Biden did sign an executive order, it was superficial and symbolic at best of the Biden Administration attempting to quell the screams of average Black Americans demanding accountability of police officers who kill Black men at a rate disproportionate to White men. In his 2023 State of the Union address, with Tyre Nichols’s parents present, Biden said “Most of us in here have never had to have the talk. The talk that brown and Black parents have had to have with their children.” (Note how “Black” comes second in Biden’s remarks. That’s not a mistake, folks. I’m not a proponent of creating or sowing division, but Democrats placate racists and racial bias on a micro-level like this quite often.) Biden has the authority to do more with an executive order, perhaps, that could, for example, create a public database of officers who were fired or reprimanded. If police can look up our information without permission, why can’t citizens demand the same of people who are held at a “higher standard”?
Efforts to draft a bill that could be presented on the floor remain in legislative limbo. Though it is a Democratic proposal with exploratory support from the left, H.R. 40 has been spearheaded by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who was on a commission that operated in 2021-2022. The commission “establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. The commission shall examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.” Biden has quietly “supported.” In fact, as recent as in March, the Biden Administration was asked about reparations and refused to answer. He dodged the reparations topic in January after he sidestepped answering. (Don’t worry, Joe, I think we know how you really feel.)
- Black Maternal Health
The mortality rate of Black women in labor is staggering, and deeply alarming when we consider Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than White women, according to the CDC. The CDC also points to racial disparities impacting pregnant Black women. Harris was very vocal about supporting Black women’s reproductive health — as we all should be — before she was announced as Biden’s running mate. (It was the worst-kept secret she would end up on Biden’s ticket. I suspected Harris was the would-be nominee because she prioritized a key voting bloc for Democrats.) But to date, Black women are still dying I understand this is a complex issue to attack considering the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. health care system. And some states fare worse than others, particularly in the South. But that doesn’t excuse Biden and Harris from keeping the conversation at the forefront if they want to retain the Black vote in 2024. Biden backed Black Maternal Health Week, which was enacted in 2021, but a week is not enough for a campaign that will penetrate a healthcare system with systemic racial issues. Time will tell how effective Biden was in addressing Black maternal health, when the next reports are released, but playing “wait and see” with Black women’s health, and the health and future of the baby, is not acceptable.
I’d be remiss if I was suggesting these are the only concerns for African Americans, but they were three of the most discussed legislative “priorities” Democrats touted support for, which actually resonated with Black voters in 2020. Crime has found its way back into the national conversation, and it is a distraction that will pivot the attention off “fixing” the police, and probably another rousing call from Biden to “fund the police.”
Unfortunately, now 2024 is inevitably gearing up to look like more same ‘ol, same ‘ol — and it’s perhaps going to be too exhausting for Black voters. And I firmly believe a pending recession will seriously impact Biden’s success with those finnicky swing voters. The outlook for Black America isn’t as bright as it should be.
Biden and Harris, like most seasoned politicians, understand that Americans have PTSD-ADHD. Meaning, when the problem is in front of us and can’t be ignored, we are the loudest. But the noise dampens until there is something else to yell about.
In my humble opinion, while this can apply to the fundamentals of retail politics, it feels like a very different beast in the new millennium. We’re talking about life and death — and a historical legacy of generational pain that has never been addressed. The Black economy is our livelihood, and Black Americans are more vocal and aware of the relationship between economic vitality in their communities, and having the ability to survive. So, perhaps, indirectly, all of this is in fact about our lives — keeping innocent Black men and children safe from the hands of the people who are entrusted with their safety, repairing the astronomical, multi-billion dollar damage stemming from centuries-old discriminatory policies, and making sure Black children have mothers to raise them.
Look, I am not just trying to shit on Biden because I can — and the president is always first to get criticized in this great country of ours. Truth be told, I believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are smart, seasoned legislators. But I’ve seen enough of the Biden-Harris White House to not have faith in their ability to address the concerns of the Black community with bold leadership. The “boldest” action I witnessed was the $2.7 billion investment in HBCU’s but earmarking those federal funds wasn’t a heavy lift, it just looked good for Democrats and the administration. Biden and Harris are centrist Democrats, which isn’t inherently terrible, but Black America needed a progressive candidate who can speak to the populous. And we know how trying to secure that worked out.
I can’t complete the answers to why adequately addressing Black America’s problems gets kicked down the road every year — and apparently, our leadership, begging for four more years, doesn’t seem to be able to either. But on the same token, I can’t complete the answers for why they just don’t know how to at least act like they give a damn when it matters. We need more than lip service.
So, I leave with a rare, but honest question: Biden-Harris, what have you done to earn the Black vote in 2024?
Corey A. Washington is Editor and Publisher of BLK News Now! His journalism experience includes Television, Print, and Digital Media as a Writer, Content Producer and Digital Producer. Some of those media outlets include CBS Phoenix (KPHO), NBC4 LA, ABC7 LA, California Black Media, SCNG, and more. He is passionate about the Black Press and advocates for the advancement of Black America by highlighting racial disparities in the U.S. and abroad, as well as great achievements in the Black community. He can be reached at Corey@BLKNewsNow.com.