Speakers from the Black community often challenge politicians to lay out the specific ways they will help Black voters. Dwight D. Hunter, JD, explains how Andrew Yang brings a new approach to empowering Black communities.
Every election cycle—local, state, or national, doesn’t matter—someone trots out the “Black Agenda” as the measuring stick for who will capture the (sometimes) important Black vote. Since there’s always an election going on, this is a pretty much nonstop conversation in some circles. It gets particularly ramped up during Presidential elections, primarily because this is one critical area where the Black vote matters very much… to the Democratic party. Let’s be clear. The DNC knows it will get the vast majority of the Black vote no matter what. But the Democrats also know they need an enthusiastic Black electorate to win the White House, because when Black folks stay home, Republicans win. The candidate who does best with Black folks is usually their best choice, if they want to win. Well, it’s 2020 and it’s Black Agenda time once again in America. So what exactly is the Black Agenda?
The substance of a Black Agenda is actually quite simple, but almost never discussed. The Black Agenda is the End of White Supremacy. I know. It’s a tall order. Bear with me. The Black Agenda has existed in virtually the exact same form since the first Black people were enslaved on this land. Attempts have been made to describe the Black Agenda in terms of policy initiatives for economic stimulus, criminal justice reform, education, healthcare, environmental justice, jobs, voting rights, etc. Some have done a masterful job of articulating in great detail how these policy initiatives can and should be addressed to specifically help the Black community.
Starting out with, “Recognize us as free people, not slaves,” the Black Agenda in America has encompassed a myriad of demands for essential structural improvements needed to occur both outside and inside of our communities. But when almost everything is a problem for Black people, the agenda is pretty much “fix everything.” What part of “everything” we should work on right now largely depends on what day it is, and who you’re talking to. That kind of virtually all-inclusive Black Agenda is thus so amorphous as to be functionally irrelevant.
Positive steps have been made in the condition of Black people in America, but there is still much left undone. In 400 years of advocating for aspects of the Black agenda, we have achieved some significant successes. We got the “slave” thing worked out…mostly. Black Americans currently enjoy the highest quality of life of any people in the African diaspora. And yet we lag woefully behind “white” folks; and by that standard we are doing pretty damn bad. No amount of incremental policy change is going to fix that.
Get the cops off our backs and we are still not caught up or any closer to catching up to white folks. No job ever built wealth like what white folks have and what we say we want a piece of. Fixing our neighborhood’s environmental issues is a must, but we all basically live in the same neighborhood now. It’s called Earth and we are destroying it. Voting rights? Are we really still having that conversation in 2020 and pretending like it’s a separate and distinct thing? We’ve always known what the real problem was, and we’ve tip-toed around it long enough. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I have all the answers (although I have some ideas), but ultimately we must address white supremacy, the central theme of the entire Black agenda. We’ll just continue putting patches on a sinking ship until we do.
Having said all that; it matters a great deal how a candidate for any public office, particularly a presidential candidate, relates to Black people. We occupy a unique position in this country, and our perspective (as multifaceted as it is) must not be ignored. What happens to Black people in America will eventually become the fate of America. And we are trying to set an example for the rest of the world, are we not? How then, is the 2020 presidential field responding to the “Black Agenda” question?
Exactly like you think they are. They aren’t insane. They mostly want to restore voting rights, do something about police, get Black people government jobs, housing, healthcare, and childcare, and Marianne WIlliamson even wants to get us those reparations! Of the top six contenders, only Biden and Yang don’t have a specific racial policy section on their campaign website. You can surmise something about each candidate’s relationship with Black voters from this. Pete named his initiative after a Black historical figure because he has no idea how to connect with Black people and the few Black people around him aren’t being particularly helpful. Elizabeth is a people pleaser and so is her take on the Black Agenda; she may actually think it really is all in there. Bernie marched with King, and his Black agenda reflects that: It’s a classic, but dated. And Uncle Joe? Well Uncle Joe has a Black friend and he is riding that whole card by not saying anything that wasn’t said in 2008. His team didn’t publish a Black Agenda then either.
Which brings us to Andrew Yang. And let’s be clear again; I am 1000% Yang Gang. Take everything I’ve said about other candidates with a grain of salt because of that if you must.
When it comes to Yang and the Black Agenda, he is pretty straight forward. No bells and whistles on the campaign site. Just a consistent message that setting up an economic floor and injecting a cash infusion of $30 Billion each month into Black communities will be the single best way to address our economic stress. Yang checks the other obvious boxes for policies that will help Black America, and then raises them $1,000, per month, for life. You can say all you want that everyone gets it. What’s important to Black America is that we get it. ASAP. And that we use it better than we have ever used our collective potential thus far in the history of this country.
Short of a direct promise from any candidate to address and eradicate all vestiges of White Supremacy, no matter what the costs, we aren’t yet ready to address the real Black Agenda. Until then, Yang is the only candidate with a transformational idea for the Black community. Unfortunately very few Black people have any idea that he even exists, thanks to the Yang Media Blackout, and, to be honest, his newness on the political scene and the fact that Black folks can be loyal to a fault.
So I have another Black Agenda for the 2020 election cycle: To educate and inform Black voters of all their choices so that they can be critical thinkers and engage in rational decision making with all the relevant details in their possession.
Dwight D. Hunter, JD is a father, entrepreneur, futurist. Dwight is a native of Atlanta, GA, a veteran, former police officer, former tax lawyer, and former stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. He is the current CEO of Extra Virgin Entertainment, co-host of the Utter Chaos podcast, and treasurer of Ubuntu PAC. Dwight earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a law degree (JD) from Georgia State University. He now resides in Los Angeles and can be found on social media as @NkosiDwight.