October 24, 2020

Why Black New Yorkers Should Vote Working Families Party

Why Black New Yorkers Should Vote Working Families Party

This year, the stakes of the Presidential election are sky high. Our nation has endured four years of a ruling party hell-bent on undoing decades of progress. Black and brown America: we need to vote like our lives depend on it, because this year, they really do. And if you live in New York, we need to vote for Biden and Harris on the Working Families Party line.

Over the course of eight months, COVID-19 has laid bare the truth that marginalized people have long known: this country does not work for the vast majority of us. When the pandemic hit, Black and Latinx people disproportionately contracted COVID-19 while serving on the frontlines as nurses, service workers, and teachers — and the government refused to give us the stimulus funds we’d need to stay home safely and securely. When we rose up in the millions to demand dignity and safety for Black bodies, Trump egged on over-militarized police departments across the country to brutalize us on our own streets.

As a longtime political organizer, I’ll be the first to tell you that voting is not enough to win the future of justice we know we need. But I can also tell you that voting is one of many tools in our toolbox—and it’s one that we must put to use this November. Republicans know this, too. That’s why they’re doing everything in their power—from closing polling sites to limiting mail-in voting—to prevent Black folks from voting. We need to do exactly the opposite: turn out in record numbers.

When Black people make our voices heard at the polls in combination with taking to the streets and organizing our communities, we begin to build the future we deserve. We showed that this year in New York, when Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones both handily won their Congressional races. They ran campaigns deeply rooted in their experiences as Black men in America: talking candidly about police brutality as the George Floyd protests spread like wildfire, Section 8 housing as millions teetered on the brink of evictions, and equity in education as low-income children fell behind during remote learning. Both Jamaal and Mondaire won by unapologetically inviting the protests to the polls—which is exactly what we need to replicate in the Presidential election.

I know that for many voters, this Democratic ticket was not their first, second, or even third choice. But here’s the thing: for four years now, we’ve been playing defense to protect our people from a constant barrage of racist, classist, violent and xenophobic attacks. We cannot allow another four years of defense. Voting Trump out is a necessary precondition to actually fighting the fight we need to be in: pushing our government to deliver expansive, transformative policy like healthcare for everyone, a Green New Deal, and equitable and excellent schools for all our children.

In New York, voters have the opportunity to vote Trump out and vocalize their support for that agenda. That’s because in New York, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will appear on the Working Families Party ballot line in addition to the Democratic ballot line. By voting for the ticket on the Working Families Party line, New Yorkers can take a progressive stand while doing their civic duty. That’s because the Working Families Party is the political home of our state’s movement for justice and equity. For twenty years, our party has stood with impacted communities to elect representatives who promised to deliver change—and held them accountable to actually doing so. That’s how New York finally repealed the war-on-drugs era Rockefeller laws, won driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, delivered historic tenant protections, and so many more wins for working people.

Let’s be real: a Biden and Harris win in November is not going to automatically transform what it means to be Black in America. But a Trump win will transform what it means for the worse. And when we sit out the election, we’re letting other voters decide that future for us. We have so much more to win: for ourselves, for our communities and for our children. Please join me in voting—whether it’s by mail, early, or on Election Day—so we can get back in the ring and fight for the future we deserve.