They are the most loyal to the Democrats, crucial in several states and essential to defeat Donald Trump on November 3.
They are the most loyal to the Democrats, crucial in several states and essential to raise Joe Biden to the White House; But many black voters come to the elections battered by the pandemic and tired of asking to be remembered more than once every four years.
Robert is sitting on a sidewalk in Cleveland, in the key state of Ohio. The store behind you is a meeting point in your neighborhood, but many arrive in their car, pick up their famous chicken wings and leave: on that street, as in too many others in the United States, shootings are the order of the day.
“I’m going to vote, but What will change? They are not helping usor. They keep killing us, “Robert tells Efe while shaking his head.
A couple of years ago, the police installed a police station on the parallel street, but things are not improving. “It should take them three minutes to get here. But people shoot, reload the shotgun, fire again and they haven’t arrived yet,” he is indignant.
At 54, Robert believes that politicians “take advantage” of the poor, often synonymous with blacks; who visit their neighborhoods in the field but do not step on them again. “When they come to power, they forget the people who put them there.”
But Robert is clear that he will vote on November 3, as he does in every election. Disenchantment does not erase a sense of commitment that many African Americans, especially older ones, associate with the act of suffrage.
“Many are very aware that other blacks shed blood for our right to vote, and they feel that it is their duty to do so,” sociologist Rashawn Ray, who studies the dynamics of the black vote from the Brookings study center, explains to Efe.
If Robert votes by inertia, Yvonka Hall does it convinced. His neighborhood east of Cleveland is one of the hardest hit by a pandemic that has hit black people disproportionately, and going to the polls seems more important than ever.
“My health is not the best, and I wonder when I will hug someone again, when I will live again. The only way that will happen is if we make sure to vote. So, hell, everyone has to do it“says Hall, 52, in an interview with Efe in his garden.
As the director of the Northwest Ohio Black Health Coalition, Hall is in contact with those affected by the coronavirus crisis, and her mask has written the motto “Vote”.
Their attitude reflects the mobilization of the majority of black women in the country, considered the “backbone” of the Democratic Party for their high electoral participation and because they tend to drag their family to the polls.
If many African Americans go out to vote in cities like Cleveland or Detroit, Michigan, which are black and in key states, Biden will have much easier to get to the White House.
Still, the passion of women like Hall won’t be enough: black men will have to be motivated too, who voted much less in 2016 than during the Presidency of Barack Obama, and the youngest.
Juan Goodwin is not worried about that challenge: the Trump Presidency, he says, has opened the eyes of many young people who were demotivated.
“There has not been a day since November 2016 in which I have not talked about it with other black men. It is something that overshadowed the debates about sports that we used to have in our group chats,” said that community organizer for Efe, who shares neighborhood with Robert.
The pandemic has added a sense of urgency to those conversations: “In these elections, everything is a matter of life or death. People are dying for the policies that are being implemented, “says Goodwin, 35.