Talking about communities of color can be the most difficult thing for a politician to do, especially a white one. It’s one thing to be openly racist like the current Cheeto Jesus, but it’s also important to recognize laziness around appealing to communities of color.
During debates and speeches, it often feels like establishment democrats have a playbook to adhere to, with each page detailing the stereotypical concerns of each race.
Biden tends to do this a lot. Besides being painfully obvious in his old-school politics and refusal to evolve, Biden puts his foot in his mouth nearly every time a POC issue is brought up, or not?
Known as the Gaffe King, Biden once equated poor kids with kids of color and white kids with wealth, in a speech stating that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
There are plenty of other examples of Biden putting his foot in his mouth, like using code words “urban” or “inner city” to refer to black and brown people, even when not asked.
But other candidates have cognitive dissonance when being asked about specific issues relating to people of color.
Buttigieg was asked if taxes would go up on Latino small businesses under his administration.
After responding, no, Buttigieg said the following: “We need to recognize that investing in Latino entrepreneurship is not just an investment in the Latino community, it is an investment in the future of America.”
He continued, “And it is time for a president who understands the value of immigration in lifting up all of our communities and our country. We’re getting the exact opposite message from the current president.”
In this response, Buttigieg effectively equated Latino with immigration even when the question was about small businesses.
Instances such as this one, show that no matter what that candidate thinks of each race, they respond to questions as single-issue voting blocks.
Stats don’t lie
You might say campaigns count on this rhetoric to get the most votes. While its accurate to say that due to systemic racism POC are proportionally more likely to have a lower income, that’s not their only concern as a voting block.
Black Census Project, conducted by The Black Futures Lab is the largest survey of Black people conducted in the United States since Reconstruction. Their polls show that
“Nine in 10 Black Census respondents (90 percent) view wages too low to sustain a family as a problem in the community, and a large majority (85 percent) support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”
However, BlackPAC’s polls show that,
“50% of respondents identify racism and discrimination as the top issue in the upcoming election for President.”
“Jobs and economy (29%), education (24%), police accountability (24%), and the environment and climate (20%) rounded out the first-tier issues. Critical second-tier issues included criminal justice reform (16%), common-sense gun reform (14%), voting rights (13%), and women’s reproductive rights (13%).”
But let’s also take the Latino business question for a second.
According to a poll from Univision and the Latino Community Foundation from February 18, 2020, Latino’s primary concern is low-cost health care. 25% of Latinos, one in five, said high health care prices are the most significant issue.
Eighty-three percent support Medicare for all. After that the next top 4 concerns are improving incomes(19%), Stop Trump/GOP Agenda (13%), creating more jobs (12%), and stop racism (12%).
Protecting immigrants’ rights is sixth and last on the list with (11%). Knowing this, it’s actually quite illogical to bring up immigration during a Latino business question. If you’re trying to speak to what Latinos really care about you’d opt for any other issue.
Do better Dems
So why clutch onto the outdated and just flat out incorrect stereotyping? Is it laziness? Indifference?
You’ve probably heard plenty of white politicians who are unable to shake off that old rhetoric. This is probably because they’ve internalized it and unfortunately just see POC that way.
You can point out the good intentions behind it, but the results are clear. Perpetuating a narrow representation of POC is harmful. Not every Black kid is poor and not every white kid is rich. Not every Latino is an immigrant or prioritizes immigrant issues.
Politicians need to do better with their rhetoric if they want our votes. Keeping up the same old buzz words and race stereotypes just proves that they’re not really listening.