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Is Black Political Power important to Democrats?

Dayvon Love

Dayvon Love

Director of Public Policy
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

People who are familiar with the work of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) are used to our criticism of the Democratic Party establishment. We focus so much on that because we live in a city and a state that is a Democratic Party stronghold. Even though Democrats would like to be perceived as champions for issues facing Black people, the party leadership has typically reflected the politics of corporate elites and a liberal multicultural class of folks who profiteer off of the suffering of Black people. This should not be mistaken for having any sympathies for the Republican Party. In fact, LBS has been vocal critics of the policies advocated by Republicans, particularly during the tenure of Larry Hogan as Governor of Maryland. It is clear that Republicans take up policy positions that are more aggressively detrimental to the humanity of Black people. This includes their opposition to community control of law enforcement, reparations, affirmative action, etc. Republicans have been drivers of the tough on crime agenda that has fueled the prison industrial complex. Some may ask, why is it helpful to be so critical of the Democratic Party in the face of a right-wing whose stated policy platform is so harmful to Black people? 

I have written in previous commentary about the way that Fox45 and Sinclair Broadcasting have been peddling propaganda that stokes societal anxieties rooted in notions of inherent Black criminality. This resulted in Fox45 essentially being an advocacy arm of the law enforcement establishment that wants to go back to a war on drugs, tough on crime approach to the criminal justice system. This has culminated in what LBS is calling the Fox45 Juvenile Justice bill making its way through the state legislature. This bill expands the criminal justice system in a way that will bring more Black youth in contact with the justice system. What good is a Democratic Party to Black people if it will not push back against and be complicit with Fox45/Sinclair Broadcasting’s right-wing agenda? 

Another example of Sinclair Broadcasting’s right-wing political agenda is a ballot initiative that it funded to reduce the size of the Baltimore City Council. Sinclair Broadcasting was able to fund work to get enough signatures to place a question on the ballot for the general election in November to shrink the size of the City Council from 15 members to 8. The impact of such a change would increase the capacity for white people to exert increased political power in a majority Black city. This would likely pose a challenge to a policy agenda that would empower Black people. Issues that LBS has worked on over the years, like the Baltimore City Children and Youth Fund, investments in community approaches to violence prevention, and reparations are policies that may not have been successful in a City Council where white people, particularly those with a right-wing political agenda, have more influence. With the current number of council members, Black people have a greater potential for our collective interests to be carried out. This does not mean that the current system is a perfect system, but with fewer members Black people, collectively, have less ability to exercise influence over the City Council if the Sinclair Broadcasting ballot initiative is successful in November.

If the Democrats in Baltimore are serious about Black political power, then this should be a major issue that is prioritized. Resources and energy need to be invested in making sure this ballot initiative does not succeed. We need to educate voters about the impact of this on Black political power. I hope that this will not be another example of Democrats demonstrating, through a lack of investment in resources and attention, that they have more in common with Republicans than they want their constituents to believe.

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