The church has been closed since March and it is bitterly cold inside. The gym windows are broken. There are water stains in the refectory and a biblical mess on the altar. What is not there is a trace of the masons, who should have fixed the leaks in the roof before the parishioners return to mass this Sunday after seven months of virtual services. He reverendo Gregory Lewis he grumbles, but does not intend to give up. When the mass is over, you will accompany your parish to vote early, one of the many initiatives he has undertaken to try to mobilize the black electorate of Milwaukee in these presidential. “We cannot wait for a white horse to appear to save us. Things will only change if we form a strong electoral bloc so that our voice is heard, “says this 62-year-old priest.
Your community is “sick.” Not just a covid-19 who was about to kill him in March, as he has done disproportionately with thousands of African-Americans, but from other more mundane pathologies such as poverty, the violence, the drugs o la lack of opportunities. A diagnosis that can be extrapolated to other cities with a large black population, from Chicago a Baltimore going by Detroit The Menfis. No one doubts that this minority will vote again democrat overwhelmingly, but the final percentage could depend on the victory of Joe Biden. Four years ago his participation fell seven points across the country compared to 2012, the first time that happened in two decades.
Victoria de Trump and Wisconsin
You already know the result. In a decisive state how Wisconsin, the drop in participation was concentrated in Milwaukee, its main metropolis, where they were issued 40,000 votes Democrats less. A figure that was enough for Donald Trump to win the state by 23,000 votes and dye it Republican red for the first time since 1984. That scenario now occupies the wakefulness of Democratic activists like the Reverend Lewis, who leads Souls to the Polls, a coalition of religious leaders dedicated to getting their own to the polls. “Our main challenge is to convince young people for them to vote. They don’t believe in the system and they feel expelled by this society where the racism is still very much alive “he says as his phone rings non-stop. “They don’t have a job, they can’t buy a house, education has failed them and they can barely put a plate on the table. They only worry about surviving “, Add.
This is not an exaggeration. Milwaukee is the Most segregated city in America and the worst of their metropolises to be black, according to several studies. More than 70% of its young people study in colleges tan hypersegregated like in the late sixties; almost half of his children are poor and one of its neighborhoods jail more black men than anywhere else in the country. Muhibb Dyer has been struggling with discouragement for three decades. After his 16-year-old godson was gunned down in the street, he launched the Bell I won’t die young to try to stop the gun violence that prevails in the poorest and most segregated neighborhoods of Milwaukee.
“Older generations continue to honor the sacrifices our ancestors had to make to conquer the right to vote, but with young people it is different, “explains Dyer in a small market with black-owned businesses. He literally rises above the ashes of a bank that burned in the 2016 riots, when part of the city rose up to protest the death of a black man in his twenties shot by the police. Sylville Smith his name was, yet another martyr for that overflowing pantheon that has recently added names like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd or Jacob Blake, seriously wounded just a few miles from Milwaukee.
The protests in recent months against police brutality and racism reflect the indignation that runs through black America And while they have spawned a new generation of civil rights leaders, they have not yet fully engaged masses of disinherited like those that populate these neighborhoods. “Among those under 35, many believe that the two candidates are two sides of the same coin. Although they think that Trump is racist and toxic for the country, they don’t trust Biden because they see him as a white old man that helped put many blacks in jail in the 1990s, “says Dyer, alluding to Biden’s support for the mass incarceration policies of Bill Clinton. An endorsement of which he has regretted and that did not take him too much toll in the primaries, where it was African Americans who rescued his dying candidacy.
Fed up with the situation
The first data on the early voting and by mail suggest an increase in turnout and filled the queues at several Wisconsin polling stations this week. Although it is nothing more than an early vote. “Me I don’t know if to call it enthusiasm, rather I would call it frustration. Our people are disgusted with the situation in Milwaukee and across the country. The pandemic It has only made it worse. Things have to change, “he says. Lena Taylor, Democratic state senator. Taylor distributes boxes of food in the neighborhood that jails the most black people in the country, known for its postal code, 53.206. Direct traffic and give directions as one more. And like many others, he believes that his party has given the black vote for granted for too long, with nothing substantially changing afterwards. Not even with Barack Obama.
But this time this time she’s a bit more hopeful. “I have never seen a candidacy that has put the injustice against blacks at the center of your campaign. This is the first time this has happened since Jesse Jackson. It may all be in words in the end, but I have never seen such an ambitious plan “.
A few meters away, Jajuan Snipes hangs out on the porch of his house. He is 19 years old and works in a security company. But you don’t really want to talk. He is in mourning. The eve they killed one of his school friends in a shootout. Snipes says he’s going to vote, even though he doesn’t even know the name of the Democratic candidate: “I only know that I will vote against Trump. Something has to change in my community. There is too much violence. “
Right now, Biden is ahead in Wisconsin by 4.6 percentage points, based on the average of US polls. Real Clear Politics.
“What the hell have you got to lose?”
Four years ago Donald Trump presented a dilemma to the African American electorate. “You live in poverty, your schools are not good, you don’t have a job and 58% of your young people are unemployed. What the hell have you got to lose?” He said in a white Michigan suburb.
His offer of a broad brush was not very successful, but this campaign he has tried again with much more insistence, giving a notable role to blacks in the Republican convention or reminding them that before the pandemic the African-American unemployment reached historic lows. With his usual hyperbolic impudence, Trump has gone so far as to say that he has been the best president for blacks in history, “perhaps with the exception of Lincoln & rdquor; And although almost no one buys it, it is not ruled out that it may scratch some votes, particularly among African-American men.