I am what American society refers to as a "minority," although I don't believe that there is anything minor about me. The fact that I have survived for 56 years as an African-American woman in a sometimes racist society; raised two sons on my own; went to school; decided to relocate across country from Ohio to California as a single parent with two young children; secured my first job in Beverly Hills and my first apartment in Hollywood during the Reagan years; and survived, I don't feel minor at all. But because of my skin color, I have been placed in a minor status, which is supposed to remind me that I am "less than" my fellow Americans and inferior. In my minority status, I am supposed to be reminded that I'm not part of the American big picture, and as such I'm not really "seen", "heard" or have any societal, statistical or political significance. There are millions in my minority status, but few realize how much we really do count.
After reading Donna Brazile's interview below with Essence Magazine, I realized that despite the memes of the mainstream media and the so-called enthusiam gap and the so-called mid-term election trends and the millions of dollars flowing through the Republican party, that this mid-term election was far different than any of us had ever seen: black, white, Asian, Mexican, Indian, gay, straight, bi-racial or whatever. This 2010 midterm election is do or die for so many of us - especially those of us who are of the invisible minority.
For months and months and months I watched and listened intently and carefully as the mainstream media - all of them (including MSNBC) - theorized, polled everyday excessively (still do), called out the election results prematurely, calculated, claimed Republican victory and did all manner of things in an attempt to both predict the election results months in advance, and to provide the memes and talking points from network to network like mockingbirds regarding election outcomes. Over and over and over again I kept telling myself and reminding myself that during these media discussions, there was never an accounting of my group - the minorities. In order to find out what the minorities were thinking I watched Ed Gordon on BET and found out that 98% of African Americans still strongly supported President Barack Obama. But because we're minorities, we're not included in the mainstream polls. To some extent the Mexican population of minorities is reflected in the polls, but not with great accuracy. Just like the Republican party, the mainstream media does not know either the African-American community or the Mexican community, nor do they try to. If they did, they would know that this election season, we are keenly aware of what has transpired over the past 18 months, and we know how the Republican party, especially government officials, feel about us. I mean come on - their thoughts of us are blatant and in our faces. The haters of us: McConnell/Boehner/Cantor and their ilk, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, John McCain (hates his own black relatives), Michelle Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Jan Brewer, Sharon Angle and the rest. Then there is the mainstream media that props them up like heroes for the whole world to see, despite their evil and the fact that they are methodically bringing down the entire Country and what it used to stand for. Just think, 5 years ago I didn't know who these people were. Now they are household names and unfortunately a part of my psyche.
However, the thing about hate is that it can be just as much about ignoring a group of people, as it is about in-your-face hate. In this regard, it is very dangerous politically because the group that you've chosen to ignore can become gravely underreported and not taken seriously. Neither the Republicans nor the mainstream media learned that in 2008, and they still haven't.
I would like to share with you excepts of the interview with Donna Brazile entitled "Power of the Black Vote", which was conducted by Cynthia Gordy on
Monday, October 25, 2010. Cynthia Gordy is also a minority: an African-American woman/reporter who gets no face time in the mainstream media.
ESSENCE.com: We know that a majority of African-Americans have a favorable opinion of the President, but will that translate to votes on Election Day?
DONNA BRAZILE: Every electoral season is different. There are different issues, personalities and candidates at play. Normally in midterm elections, like the rest of the country, Black turnout falls behind because it's not a presidential year. One problem facing the Democrats this year was to re-engage the so-called "surge voters" of 2008 and get them excited about the midterm election.
ESSENCE.com: How do you think Democrats have done, with regard to engaging African-Americans?
BRAZILE: I think African-Americans are clearly more engaged today than they've been over the past 18 months, in large part because they understand that President Obama's agenda -- which has invested in education, healthcare and helping to revive the economy -- is under fire by those running against the President. They have vowed to repeal the health care law and the minimum wage, and to cut back drastically on government investment in key infrastructure programs. Black voters are informed about the consequences of allowing Tea Party candidates to take control of the government, but at the same time, in midterm elections it's very difficult to mobilize voters on a national level -- you've got to mobilize at the state and local level.
ESSENCE.com: With sky-high enthusiasm among conservative voters, how do you think that will play out on Election Day?
BRAZILE: Polls are just a snapshot in time. History suggests that the party in power will lose seats. The question is: Will they lose 20 to 25, which is historically the norm, or will they lose more, which would cause Democrats to lose the House?
We do know there's energy on the Republican side in large part because the Tea Party has been the dominant news story of the electorate. But that doesn't mean that the Tea Party will control the night. We've been focused on the Tea Party since the election of Barack Obama, almost to the exclusion of everything else. As a result of that, there's an exaggerated sense of their self-importance in the electorate, when in fact the surge voters of 2008 may reemerge as the story for 2010. The Republicans haven't won anything yet.
ESSENCE.com: So you're not worried about the so-called enthusiasm gap?
BRAZILE: While polls show an enthusiasm gap, that gap has been closing over the last couple of weeks. Look at it like a dance -- Republicans get to the party when they know the refreshments are out, while Democrats often come to the party late. We normally focus on voting when it's at least two to three weeks out; we don't focus six months out.
If you look at these polls, in most of the samples they use, African-Americans and Latinos represent less than 20 percent. When you look at the surge voters of 2008, the surge came from Black women. Sixty-nine percent, almost three-fourths, of Black woman cast their ballots. If we can get two-thirds, sixty percent, this time to turn up, that will make a large difference in whether or not Democrats retain control of the House and Senate. We have such untapped potential, and we have to leverage our power. It's going to be a very interesting night, and nobody can predict exactly how it will end.
Of special note: A report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that African-Americans are concentrated in districts with competitive races, meaning they could make the difference in who controls the House and Senate.
I am excited to say that I am a part of this silent majority, and have already cast my votes in the State of California. Across this great Country, there are millions just like me.