What Bernie and Friends (and the Media) Don’t Get About Black Voters

D. Elisabeth Glassco
6 min readMay 9, 2019
Bruce Davidson
USA. New York City. 1963. Malcolm X rally in Harlem

Here come the media pieces purporting to figure out what’s going on with Biden and Black voters.

Here’s one and here’s one.

Almost all hand wring over why, given Biden’s history of missteps (Anita Hill, busing desegregation, the war on drugs, me too, etc.), would Black voters support him in large numbers and why the other candidates so far are having a devil of a time chipping away at that support.

People, it is not that hard.

Black voters want what all constituencies want: attention to their needs and issues — -in other words, what are you going to do for me and mine?

Black voters are not of a hive mind. We have diversity (especially generational). But, given that the overwhelming majority of Black Americans face widespread marginalization across a wide field of economic and social indicators and that Black voters vote Democratic (with a sprinkling of independents who eschew party labeling but usually vote Democratic and a tiny number of black Republicans), some generalizations can be made.

To a large extent, we are pragmatic voters, borne of generations of false promises and ill-will by politicians and municipal leaders. We see pie-in-the-sky promises and intrinsically understand that, in the end, if they are realized, will, at best, leave the Black community with the usual crumbs. Always the policies must be enveloped into benefiting others — -never just us — — for fear of White backlash (re: reparations, affirmative action, law enforcement reform, etc.). Even on the left, we hear the media and other elites try to explain to us — -whose ancestors toiled under the yoke of slavery and Jim Crow and who still bear crushing institutionalized marginalization — -how Trump’s voters were so economically challenged, just so distraught, they had no choice but to vote for Trump. We hear the “identity politics” crowd unbelievably assert that if we just stop talking about our identity, racism and sexism will be stripped of its power and discrimination will magically erode. Newsflash, been there, heard that. Decrying “identity politics” is part of a trope as old as the Republic — -variously phrased as stop “playing the race card,” and in the days of the old time segregationists “nigras, know…



D. Elisabeth Glassco

A native of of the great state of Mississippi and proud resident of New Jersey. Lecturer and Doctoral candidate in Media, Race, Class, and Politics @Rutgers.