Black Women Vote: Our Votes and Voices Matter

By Caroline Marigny

The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Get Out Her Vote Campaign (GOHV) is the nation’s only student-led voter education and registration initiative aimed at increasing young women’s voter participation. Young women of color, particularly Black women, are the most important voting body today. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) involvement is critical in making a difference at the polls this year. The strength at which we vote and the policies we vote on today will affect the black women of tomorrow.

A black woman in a purple headwrap casts her vote in Ohio-Source: For Harriet
A black woman in a purple headwrap casts her vote in Ohio-Source: For Harriet

The mobilization of progressive black female-identifying students has the potential to change the political landscape across the nation. For example, in the 2012 Presidential election 70 percent of Black women outvoted white men, white women, and black men. Subsequently, in 2016, Black women make up more of the Democratic party than Black men because, as a recent Gallup poll found, they are more fearful of this year’s election outcome. Consequently, in off year non-presidential elections, black female voter turnout is significantly lower. This means those elections are determined by a much smaller voter margin and participation in these elections is even more impactful because less people vote. Black women have enormous issues at stake in this very election and a women’s vote is extremely crucial when dealing with issues such as abortion and police brutality. This is due to the measurable difference in the way women and men vote and view issues which is called the gender gap. This gap widens when we implement race into the equation as well. It can be seen that Black women vote differently from both Black and White men. Therefore, it is important that young Black female-identifying voters vote alongside important feminist issues!

Furthermore, participating and voting in every election- federal, state, county and municipal- is incredibly important as well. According to a 2013 Voter Registration, women of color make up a rising population of eligible voters. Hence, Black women have the power to make or break an election because we hold a lot of power in our families, throughout our college campuses and our surrounding communities. It’s important that we mobilize ourselves and those around us to vote in order to be successful at the polls.

Finally, Black female-identifying voters have impacted the last two elections tremendously but, not surprisingly, we are still underrepresented in our own government. As a result of the 2014 election, women now represent 20 percent of the Senate and 19.3 percent (or 84 members) of the House of Representatives. Of those 84 members of the House of Representatives, 18 are Black women. According to the Huffington Post, “candidates… rarely acknowledge women of color as distinct political actors, with particular priorities, political preferences, and voting behaviors.” This mindset makes it hard for Black women to be seen as individuals with specific needs in the eyes of society and the media. Consequently, because of this, Black women are underrepresented and misrepresented in all political facets and “to the extent that women of color are considered at all, it is most often as a part of broader efforts aimed at women, youth, or a specific racial or ethnic group.” It is essential that Black women are acknowledged as the leaders and bringers of change that we are, without being overlooked or swept aside. The numbers are clear-there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to increase Black women’s representation at the polls and government- at the state and local levels. The fight starts now, so make sure you and others get to the polls this November 8th!

By Caroline Marigny

Caroline Marigny is a sophomore at Howard University majoring in Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is from Baltimore, MD, having graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in the Roland Park area, and is passionate about many things including gender equality and women’s rights/issues. Additionally, she is the President of Howard University’s first Feminist Club in partnership with the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campus Leadership Program.

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