Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, once said: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Chisholm’s guidance and wisdom continued to resonate with women of color through the years, motivating them to not only bring a chair but to also build a whole new table by themselves.
Many women-led organizations, consciously or unconsciously, took that statement into practice and created from the ground up a space dedicated to fighting for gender equity, like Supermajority, a newly launched organization founded by members from all 50 states under the leadership of Ai-Jen Poo, Alicia Garza, and Cecile Richards.
Although women still don’t have legislative and political power, Supermajority is “building a home for women’s activism to train and mobilize a multiracial, intergenerational community that will fight for gender equity together.”
Tired of not being “an interest group” despite women and femmes makeup 51% of the population and are the majority of volunteers, donors, and voters, the collective Supermajority decided to conduct research among less engaged women voters of color because they are often left out of the political conversation. In order to reach these critical voters, we need to know what issues they care about and this research helps us do that.
The findings revealed that women of color are “living through the trifecta of coronavirus, economic collapse, and racial injustice,” and many of them, unfortunately, face the challenges of dealing with all three at once. These situations have overshadowed the moments of joy and pleasure, giving room to stress, anxiety, and other unprecedented challenges.
Women of color are simultaneously the most likely to be adversely affected by the coronavirus, lost jobs and wages, and racism. The Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment data revealed that Black, Asians, and Latinas from 16 to 65 years old and older have the highest rates of unemployment during the pandemic. This economic fallout can be attributed to job offers disappearance, the struggle of working, and taking care of children’s education without support, as well as reduced work hours and being laid off.
In this situation, we can also add the roller coaster of emotions provoked by the protests against police brutality and racism.
Supermajority describes it as “energizing and stressful.” On one hand, Black women appreciate the acknowledgment of Black experience with policing, and how Latinas, AAPI, and Native American women are expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement while sharing their own experiences with racism. On the other hand, they are also wary that some people just realize that they are experiencing racism daily, and, as the protests continue, the police continue to kill Black men and women.
“With recent increased attention on racism, police brutality, justice inequality, healthcare bias, and African-American incarceration rates, I don’t feel safe as myself, a black woman who could potentially be racially profiled, judged, beaten, incarcerated, given unfair health advisement, and/or killed because of the color of my skin and my gender. Not feeling safe has left me exhausted, thoughts of insecurity, new phobias, paranoia, and suicide have run rampant in my mind,” said a Black woman from Texas.
Women of color also ask white people to unify behind the Black community and help in making the police to be held accountable for their terrible actions. “It feels like the world is coming to an end … We are in the middle of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight and fed up with police and how they treat people of color. The racial disparities, it has always been there but now it is taking front and center stage and I’m glad, this world needs change,” said a 34-year-old Latina from Pennsylvania.
Supermajority research also reveals what women of color want, and they look forward to having a leader who “will unify the country and bring people together.” Describing Trump’s government as “divisive and racist” and “corrosive and exhausting,” women believe that they need a leader who has a plan for dealing with coronavirus and its economic damage.
“I have family members who fought in Vietnam, they’re veterans, and they’re sick right now with COVID. With Trump being in office, they gave the reservation body bags instead of hazmat suits and hand sanitizer,” revealed a 23-year-old Native American woman from Arizona.
“Supermajority’s research shows that young women of color want a president who will take immediate action on issues that matter to them—the issues that the Trump administration has exacerbated, in many cases, and failed to address—such as systemic racism, the economy, and health care,” said Nicole Lopez, Senior Communications Associate of Supermajority to BELatina.
“Additionally, women of color participants are excited and energized by the possibility of having a vice-president candidate who is a woman of color, who understands their lived experiences, and who will hold Joe Biden accountable. As one young Latina participant from Georgia put it, ‘[I want a] VP who isn’t afraid to tell him when he is wrong!’. It is imperative that we listen to women of color throughout this election cycle as they will play a major role in electing the next administration, and women of color whom we talked to have gone as far as saying that their decision of whether or not to vote in 2020 will be impacted by Biden’s VP selection.”
The survey respondents agree on wanting to see tangible plans of action to address their current needs, specifically:
- Reverse some of the damage created by the Trump Administration by replacing a culture of divisiveness and hate with one of compassion, respect, and unity.
- Addressing systemic racism.
- Sustained action to dismantle racial inequities.
- Women of color need immediate and long term economic relief in the wake of COVID-19. They want economic policies that level the playing field and give every American equal opportunity for economic mobility.
- Women of color need access to quality, affordable health care.
- They also want action taken to eliminate racial discrimination in the treatment of people of color by health care professionals.
- They want policies that reverse the vilification of immigrants and promote real immigration reform.
Women of color showed a high level of opposition against President Donald Trump. However, the research revealed that participants know very little about Biden. “I guess the only thing I like about Joe Biden is that he was the Vice President in the Obama Administration, and he has some experience,” said a 40-year-old Latina from Pennsylvania, while an AAPI woman, from North Carolina, said: “I do like that he has experience as a VP under Obama and that he will be choosing a woman as his VP.”
Other respondents also expressed their reasons for not voting in 2020 — from age, barriers to voting, and certain feelings of disconnection and not being interested in politics, makes them feel like their votes don’t matter.
But your vote does matter. After witnessing what Donald Trump has done during his presidency, those women who thought that voting had not been their priority are now “highly motivated to vote this year to get Trump out of office,” as reported by Supermajority.
“Well, I do want to vote this time, because I do not like what Trump has done to our country. But I really don’t think our votes count for President,” said an AAPI woman from Michigan. Another Black woman participant from Pennsylvania said: “I am definitely more interested in voting this year. The guilt of having not voted previously and seen the mess that came out of the last elections pushes me to be more active.”