Opinion

Uncle Luke: Democrats Need to Deliver for Black Voters Who Put Them in Office

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden Photo by Marc Nozell / Flickr
I don't want to hear any more excuses from Democratic politicians. Donald Trump is gone. Liberals have control of the White House and Congress. And while Florida may be red, a progressive Jewish lady is Miami-Dade County mayor. It's time they deliver for Black America and Black Miami. African-American voters powered Democratic victories in the presidential race, the Georgia U.S. Senate races, and the runoff for county mayor.

Yet President Joe Biden is already off to a shaky start, judging by his cabinet picks. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank focused on improving the lives of African-Americans, recently noted that only two out of the 15 people nominated for secretary positions are Black: Biden picked Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary and selected Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to lead Housing and Urban Development.

According to the Joint Center, Bill Clinton nominated Black cabinet members to fill four out of 14 secretary spots.

The think tank also found that Biden's cabinet is 13 percent Black, even though 22 percent of the 81.3 million Americans who voted for Biden are Black.

You can tell what a president is going to do for the African-American community by the people he picks for cabinet positions. For instance, Fudge is a rising star in the Congressional Black Caucus. But she doesn't have the type of experience to tackle housing and urban development on a national scale.

Before her political career, Fudge was the budget and finance director for the prosecutors' office in Ohio's Cuyahoga County and a real estate tax department auditor. Her path to Congress began as mayor of Warrensville Heights, a small town outside Cleveland with a population of roughly 13,000 people. Fudge doesn't know how to deal with public-housing tenants and people who need housing assistance. She is far out of her field.

To oversee education, Biden selected Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, who was in charge of a state educational system that is smaller than the public school system in Miami-Dade, the third-largest in the country. Biden is not selecting people who understand and can tackle the problems in African-American communities.

Last month, the NAACP met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to urge the new administration to create a cabinet position focused on racial justice and equity, which hasn't happened. And Biden's people still haven't contacted Ice Cube to work on a contract with Black America. It's going to fall to Harris, who I believed was the best candidate for president before she dropped out, to push Biden to enact policies that help Black small businesses and make sure Black workers get the same financial assistance and benefits afforded to mega-corporations like Amazon and Walmart.

Here in Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava kicked off her four-year mayoral term by pissing off the local chapter of the NAACP when she named former Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales as the county's chief operations officer. The NAACP branch railed that Morales fostered "a culture of excessive force and police brutality" in Miami Beach and that he "should not be celebrated, tolerated or promoted to lead any office in Miami-Dade County."

Following a closed-door meeting with Cava, the Miami-Dade NAACP backed off when the mayor promised to deliver a report after her first 100 days in office on any progress in making Miami-Dade more equitable and inclusive. The NAACP should have pressured Cava to sponsor legislation that gives Black companies more county contracts, protects Black businesses from discrimination when seeking bank financing, and creates a truly independent police-review board. And she should be hiring more Blacks to top administrative positions in county government. Her selections of J.D. Patterson as chief public-safety officer and Morris Copeland as chief community-services officer are not enough.

Recently, Cava has made a big deal about opening COVID-19 vaccine sites for senior citizens all over Miami-Dade. But the vaccine isn't being well distributed in any of the Black neighborhoods that have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic. According to the Miami Herald, of the 138,000 people who have been vaccinated in Miami-Dade, only six percent identified as Black. Close to 17 percent of the county's population is Black. It's a disgrace that Cava hasn't made vaccines more accessible to people of color.

Democratic politicians will come through Black neighborhoods, visit the Black churches, and shake hands with congregations when it's election season. But when the votes are done being counted, they start acting like they are too busy to address the needs of the Black people who put them in office.

No one wants to sit down with guys like me or Ice Cube to talk about a Black agenda. They don't want to hear it once the election is over. They don't want to implement a plan for Black America. They only want our votes. So going forward, Black people can't let the Democrats keep playing us. We need to flex our power.
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Listen to Luke's podcast, The Luke Show.