It's Time for Black America to Break Up With the Democratic Party | Opinion

In all the autopsies of the Democrats' recent shellacking at the polls, a crucial storyline has been left out: the large gains the Republicans made with Black Americans in Virginia. Republican Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's new governor, received historic levels of Black support, turning Trump's gains with Black Americans from an aberration into a trend.

The truth is, all is not well between Black America and the Democratic Party, and the November 2021 election night results might very well turn out to be the rumblings of a breakup that is long overdue.

In Black America, there is a growing contempt for an influential far Left that talks a "woke" game on diversity and appropriates our struggle in their ads and talking points but offers our communities little beyond the feeling of inclusion. Far-Left agenda items like Abolish ICE, Defund the Police and other "social justice" mainstays make use of provocative wordsmithing to commodify the Black American experience of racial exclusion while providing career and other benefits to white liberals.

The truth is, white liberals have for the last 30 years used Black American civil rights wins to advance their own agendas. They've implemented destructive criminal justice laws and incomplete education paradigms. They have conflated discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender with the horror of anti-Black racism. They have prioritized immigrants and those they presume are legitimate refugees at our expense, distributing redress and now possibly even Reparations to those who knowingly broke U.S. immigration laws.

While progressives accuse the Right of not talking about anti-Black racism, when the Left does talk about anti-Black racism, they do so to use our pain, not for our benefit. They treat Black Americans like mascots rather than partners. You can tell by the mission creep: Notice how articles, speeches, and advocacy start by talking about Black women or Black people as the recipients of harm—and then shift to "people of color," naming a laundry list of identity groups in their proposed redress. Think of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's offensive appropriating quip: "I always say Latinos are Black!"

Georgia voting
LAWRENCEVILLE, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 30: People line up to vote at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds on October 30, 2020 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Hundreds of people lined up for about an hour to cast their ballot on the final day of early voting in Georgia. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At best, the marriage between Black Americans and Democrats has been an arranged one; back when Republicans and Democrats switched costumes, Nixon-era Republicans were so uncomfortable with Black Americans that the "lesser of two evils" became the Black American way. But that code of conduct has since lost its utility. Consider that it was Republican President Donald Trump whose First Step Act released thousands of Black men from prison—men put there by Democrats' crime bill, pushed by our very own Democratic President Biden. Consider the economy under Trump, the historically low levels of Black unemployment. But on behalf of Democrats who use and ignore us, we were supposed to see in Trump an enemy. Thus, Joe Biden campaigning on the message that a Black American who doesn't know if they want to vote for him "ain't really Black."

Today, it's commonplace for white liberals to use hysterical language about white supremacy to gain audience and traction, mobilizing far-reaching "woke" narratives that further erase Black Americans and descendants of U.S. slaves and deny us the chance to advocate for ourselves and receive tangible resources that would improve our lives.

The Left-leaning paternalism of white liberals is even more sinister because they claim to advocate for "the oppressed," using the Black American experience to credential their platforms while supplying little of substance to Black America. Every social justice effort since the 1960's Negro civil rights movement owes its success to its use of the descendants of slaves. Yet those who rise to prominence and status do not necessarily prioritize results for Black American citizens in general and they certainly do not funnel tangible resources directly to our communities.

That is the liberal way: Use Black American pain to demonize the Right and make yourself feel virtuous—then prioritize every other group but us. It's not just the elected elite and academics, either; these appropriations of the Black American experience happen in everyday life, especially in non-profit workspaces where Black women's expertise is used to credential clueless white leadership structures that capitalize on Black marginalization rather than implementing a vision to end it. In too many spaces, Black non-profit workers have job security until they advocate for the interests of Black people and speak up for fairness in the organization's culture.

The Black leader who justifies his/her silence about Black America's specific needs and lends his or her body to justify white liberal abandonment; the white conservative who repels Black voters from the Republican Party because of racial bias or policies that closely resemble racism in action; the white liberal who is too enamored with their own sense of relative white goodness to notice (or care) that they are hurting Black America via a perverted appropriation of social justice: These are all part of the problem.

For each, the question hanging in the air from Black America is a simple one: "What have you done for me lately?" And the answer is, "Not a damn thing."

There should be hell to pay for that. Black Americans and descendants of slaves in particular should partner with political stakeholders based on values and economic outcomes rather than something as blind as party affiliation. This should be too obvious to say aloud, and I believe that soon it will be.

As a seventh-generation freedom loving American and a descendant of U.S. slaves, the new code of political conduct should be, if we don't eat, then nobody eats, and may those who take from our plate choke on what they've stolen.

It's time for Black Americans to break up with the Democratic Party. If they want our votes, let them earn them.

Pamela Denise Long is CEO of Youthcentrix® Therapy Services, a business focused on helping organizations implement trauma-informed practices and diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (DEIA) at the systems level. Denise is creator of "Humane Antiracism," an online training process that puts dialogue and relationships at the center of antiracist problem solving within networks. Connect with Ms. Long online at www.youthcentrix.com or @YOUTHCENTRIX on social media.

The views in this article are the writer's own.