Can Obama Reach the Mountain Top Without Black Women?
New America Media, Commentary, , Words: Michael Datcher// Video: Ayinde Bell Stampp and YO!TV Crew Posted: Oct 30, 2007
Editor’s Note: It’s no secret that black women are supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama for president, but New America Media contributor Michael Datcher says that maybe they should have a little more faith in black men. Datcher, a journalist based in Los Angeles, is the author of Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story.
A recent CNN poll found that black women who are registered Democrats favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama 68 percent to 25 percent (several other polls reported similar results). Extraordinary figures when you consider Obama’s fundraising prowess, Harvard Law pedigree, community organizer history, personal charisma, African-American wife—and his own black skin. He’s certainly the most “electable” black person to ever run for the nation’s highest office.
These are all elements that would seem to make him a shoe-in for capturing the majority of black women votes yet, sisters are throwing him shade and overwhelmingly supporting the wife of the first wannabe-black president. It’s hard out here for a wannabe-black president—who actually has some melanin.
VIDEO -- YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia hit the streets of the Filmore nieghborhood in San Francisco to ask people who they would vote for: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?
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The reason behind these numbers may be more numbers.
According to a 2005 Census Bureau survey, African-American women with bachelor’s degrees typically earned $41,100 while similarly educated white women earned $37,800. In 2006, with the help of upwardly mobile black women, the gender wage gap narrowed another 0.4 percent to 12.6 (down from 29.5 percent in 1975 when the Equal Pay Act came into effect).
So maybe the alignment of black women-white women pocketbooks is also helping to create an alignment of voting approaches (among Democrats) as well: Vote for the candidate who has the best chance of winning in the general election. The Harold Ford, Jr. debacle in Tennessee reminded America how uncomfortable it is with a black man holding major political power—even when he’s by far the best candidate. Many black women simply don’t trust that enough white folk will do the right thing. So a vote for Obama is a wasted vote. Especially when a vote for Hillary could also make history.
Some have agued that Obama’s lack of black female support is connected to the challenging state of black male-black female relationships. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 81 percent of white women and 77 percent of Hispanics and Asians will marry by the age of 30, but only 52 percent of African-American women will marry by that age. Skinny wallets and healthy discrimination play roles.
During the 2006 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Meeting on Race and Color Discrimination, Georgetown University economist Harry Holzer reported, “The evidence that discrimination in hiring persists is clearest in the many ‘audit’ or ‘tester’ studies of the past 10-15 years, in which matched pairs of white and minority job applicants with identical credentials on paper are sent to apply for jobs. Virtually all of these studies show statistically significant differences in the rates at which white and minority candidates receive ‘call backs’ or are offered jobs ... evidence confirms that employers have negative stereotypes about blacks relative to other employees, and are more fearful of black men than women.”
Yet, many black women say that these are age old problems that most black men should have found a way to work around by now (as many black women have been successful at doing). Black men’s failure to do so has led to a basic lack of respect that more black women are more inclined to reveal, and more black men are inclined to feel.
Is this general lack of respect hurting Obama’s standing with significant numbers of black women? I doubt it. However, could more earned general respect for black men help Obama bring more black women into his camp (especially if he’s forced to run again in 2012)? Probably. Seeing black men, in general, showing an ability to make a way out of no way, bricks without straw, will certainly engender more belief, more faith, from black women, in black men. And faith is what black men want from black women. And secretly, what they need. To have sisters look at us with eyes that say, “I know you can do it, because you know this community needs you to do it.” At times, the expectation of success from a sister is just enough of a push for a brother to get over the top. Even when the mountain is higher than his own faith. Even when the mountain top holds a desk with this name plate: Mr. President.
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