With the major party conventions now over, it is worth noting their contrasts in terms of the representation of Black people. While the Republican National Convention had few Black delegates–and the handful of Black faces on the stage proclaimed that “Blue Lives matter” and Black protest—the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was quite a different story. But what does it all mean?
As The Huffington Post reported, the DNC would not have been what it was without the role of Black women, first and foremost Donna Brazile, the interim chair, Leah Daughtry, who was CEO of the convention, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, who served as the convention chair. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also got things rolling on Monday with the banging of the gavel. Of course, Michelle Obama, the most prominent Black woman of them all, gave a rousing speech on the second night of the convention. And also highlighted that night were the “Mothers of the Movement,” seven Black women who lost children to police brutality and gun violence. With the departure of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the leaked email controversy, it appears the sisters are running that jawn, as Philly folks would say.
African-Americans accounted for 1,182 of the 4,766 delegates at the DNC, compared to 18 at the RNC, according to Fusion. Meanwhile, 292 were Asian American, 747 were Latinos, 147 were Native Americans, and 633 were from the LGBTQ community. Further, of the 30 women on stage Monday night, 18 were women of color. And there were 18 Black speakers on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, contrast this outward appearance of inclusion with the all-white Democratic presidential ticket, or the racist DNC email posted by WikiLeaks, in which a Democratic consultant makes fun of the name “LaQueenia,” as Atlanta Black Star reported. The following tweet tells you what you need to know:
When folks try to tell me how Hillary is less evil than Trump I remember this quote from MLK. pic.twitter.com/va39cRXV2i
— #JusticeForDeriante (@SankofaBrown) July 26, 2016
Hillary Clinton, the party’s nominee, should and must say #BlackLivesMatter. But Black activism forced her hand and made her–and Bernie Sanders–say it and embrace it during the primary campaign season. And Bill Clinton–apparently still thinking this is the 1990s, and that you can have a Sista Souljah moment and use Black activists as political cannon fodder—accused Black protesters of “defending the people who killed the lives you say matter.” Because, as the former president told a crowd this year, “I’ll tell you another story about a place where Black lives matter: Africa.”
The real question is whether the Dems’ convention was merely a glitzy show, or whether it will translate into policies that benefit the people that keep the party going. The Democratic Party platform is encouraging, with a call for abolishing the death penalty, reforming the criminal justice system, protecting voting rights and affirmative action, “ending systemic racism” and other issues, as Essence reported.
Whether the party will pander to its most loyal supporters–who are giving Trump zero percent support in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to recent polls– or deliver tangible benefits to Black voters is up to said voters.