A Lot is at Stake This Election Day: Why Black Women Votes Matter

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

The day is finally here. Republicans and Democrats will go neck-to-neck today over control of Congress with Republicans needing less than a dozen seats to control both the House and Senate. And while millions will be glued to their television and mobile screens, Black women have been a key influencer in swaying votes, even though they are “skeptical” that societal changes will benefit them, according to a Boston University political scientist.

“It’s very easy to fall into the doom and gloom of what’s occurring and our political landscape,” Christine Slaughter, a Boston University College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of political science told The Brink. “How do people remain hopeful, remain steadfast, have an outlook that can lead them to want to enact change versus to be motivated by anger?”

She says now more than ever, Black voters are driving to the polls in record numbers, mainly because of hope, anger, fear and strong attachments to the political ideologies of some candidates. Even with complicated voter ID laws, reduced voting locations, voter suppression strategies and other barriers people of color face, she is learning that minority women “shape and influence” voting results, mainly due to optimism. Black women, in particular, have become more active in the election process by participating in community events, signing petitions and handing out flyers – more so than white men and women, according to a survey called PHILLIS: The Journal for Research on African American Women, which is published by the Delta Research and Educational Foundation of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

“This suggests that Black women who are optimistic about the future of the United States are also willing to engage in the political process, which ultimately brings about change in society,” the study says.

Slaughter has also found that Black women who participated in the survey “were the most optimistic about the future of the country compared to white men, white women, and African American men—but the least optimistic about their own futures.”

The findings raise critical questions about how people may feel their livelihoods about their livelihoods changing after the election, she said.

Data from the study was collected in 2012 and polled political and social attitudes in the United States, with representation from 1,595 respondents: 485 African American women, 380 African American men, 286 white women, and 315 white men.

“We, as voters, should be vigilant in observing which races, especially local races, [center] around the issues that matter, such as student debt cancellation, living wages, and affordable housing,” Slaughter concluded. “We have to ensure that the policy priorities of our elected officials represent our values as voters, and, beyond participating in elections, we have to hold them accountable in doing so.”

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