*Even though it’s been 140 years, for all of their research and polling, I’m not sure if Meg Whitman and Co. is aware of the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment-later followed up with the National Voting Rights Act of 1965-which guaranteed Coloreds, Afro-Americans, African-Americans, and Blacks the right to vote.
The perception when it comes to Whitman-in the words of Nicky Diaz, her now infamous former housekeeper-is that “you don’t know me and I don’t know you.”
In the last weeks before the election, where polls place Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and her Democratic challenger Jerry Brown at almost even with California voters, every vote is going to count. And contrary to popular belief, there are still Blacks who are registered to and who do vote living in California-and no-they are not all Democrats.
For all of the millions of dollars spent by the Whitman campaign to court California voters-including women, whites, Asians, and Latinos- it should be noted that the Black voter turnout still exceeds that of Latino and Asian voters. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Latinos represent about 33% of the state’s adult population, but only 18% of those most likely to vote because many Latino adults are not U.S. citizens and are ineligible to vote. Asians are 44% more likely to vote. However, even though Blacks make up only 6% of the state’s population, when it comes to likely voters, we are 57% more likely to head to the polls on Election Day, that makes us worth talking to.
As a regular voter, it angers me when I see the Black vote being ignored. The gall of a candidate to think that they can run for office without talking to Black voters says to me that my community doesn’t matter, that I don’t matter, and neither does my vote. Which frankly, only ensures that I won’t be voting for that particular candidate when I step inside the voting booth.
To date, Whitman and Co. has ignored all requests from Black journalists for interviews. They’ve continued to tow the line “it’s in consideration” with Black newspaper and radio stations when it comes to advertising. No campaign events have taken place in traditional Black communities and unlike with her Latino and Asian voter wooing, there’s no South L.A. Meg Whitman for Governor campaign office.
It’s no secret that Whitman and Co. lost a lot of support with Latino’s after “Housekeepergate” broke. Instead of trying to reach out to politically conservative Blacks to help make up those lost numbers, Whitman’s campaign wasted valuable time and resources trying to repair the irreparable. There was no going back to Latinos after Nicky Diaz. Sorry, even I was moved by her story.
And while it’s admirable that Whitman and Co. and other Republican candidate’s see the value in courting the Latino and Asian vote, they shouldn’t discount the Black vote-and in Whitman’s case every vote is going to count-as she is about to find out, either for or against her.
It’s true that California’s Black population is declining, but like Celie said in the Color Purple “I’m poor, I’m Black, but I’m still here.” And not only am I still here, but today my vote can still make or break a candidate or issue on a ballot thanks to the Fifteenth Amendment and National Voting Rights Act of 1965. And when I and hundreds of thousands of other Blacks go to vote on Tues. Nov. 2 it’s going to come down to who we know and who we believe will best represent our interests and values. All I know about Meg Whitman is that she obviously doesn’t care about Black people.
Republican candidates like Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who choose to operate their campaigns as if under the directive no vote left behind, except for the Black vote, in lieu of courting other voters will reap the benefits of their efforts when they lose on Election Day.
Which is not to say that courting the Black vote guarantees a win-but it dramatically increases your chances. Just ask the proponents of California’s gay marriage ban Proposition 8.
Whitman and Co. and other Republican candidate’s who choose to continue to ignore the Black vote would do well to remember that when it comes to Blacks “we’s still here, and we’s can vote and if you ignore us now, it won’t be for you.”
Jasmyne Cannick, 32, has worked in the House of Representatives, California State Legislature, and for local city government in California. Today she’s a political communications strategist who’s worked on many local and state campaigns. She can be reached via her website at www.jasmynecannick.com .