After hip-hop icon Ice Cube revealed that he’s working with President Donald Trump on a Contract With Black America, Black women wondered, “what’s in it for us?”
In a blistering op-ed and retort to Cube’s actions, writer Shana Pinnock called the star’s efforts “ignorant, arrogant, paternalistic, and dangerous.”
“As a dear friend of mine texted me just today, he ‘hit the ground running instead of hitting the ground reading,’” Pinnock wrote.
Like so many other Black women, Pinnock had a real beef with the “contract” proposed by the rapper, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson.
“Moved by the public lynching of George Floyd this summer, O’Shea decided to get involved with politics and even went so far as to unveil his very own ‘Contract With Black America,’ which many Black folks (mainly men) supported vigorously,” Pinnock penned in the op-ed. “I was unsurprised by this fervor of support of the contract by Black men, mainly because an in-depth reading of the document reveals that, at its core, it centers Black men.
“When Black women pointed out that we were conspicuously being left out of this contract — because, let’s be clear — we need specificity when dealing with Black men, O’Shea had no answers,” she wrote.
Cube has steadfastly stood by his decision and has maintained that his working with Trump on the plan in no way signals an endorsement of the president.
But Pinnock’s missives underscore one crucial fact: Black women have remained the backbone of the Democratic Party’s success.
Few could dispute that, much more than Black men, women of color have led in ways that men have not.
“Black women have long been the heart of the Democratic Party — certainly among the party’s most reliable and loyal voters — but for decades that allegiance didn’t translate to their own political rise,” Tanya St. Julien, the chief of staff at Leadership for Educational Equity in New York, wrote in an email to Black Press USA.
“There have been zero Black female governors, just two senators, several dozen congresswomen, and this has translated into the people who represent them, not meeting their needs, disparities in education and opportunity,” St. Julien said. “Health inequities ranging from maternal wellness to the preconditions for the disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has had on the Black community. Add the countless cases of police brutality that have sparked the most recent clamoring for racial justice, and you have a perfect picture of leadership, not addressing the needs of Black women.”
St. Julien wrote that the value of the Black community is on the 2020 ballot.
“At a time when the entire world has paused to reflect, and have a long-overdue racial reckoning, when the world is finally coming to recognize that Black lives matter, this president and his administration are all but saying that Black lives don’t matter,” she said. “In fact, Jared Kushner just said that Black people need to want to be successful as if we are responsible for the conditions perpetuated by systemic racism. It’s been years, and Flint still doesn’t have clean water. Generations have passed, and many of us lack appropriate housing conditions, and now our children are stuck in the digital divide, unable to access one of society’s most important resources.”
On Thursday, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scheduled its “Policy for the People” virtual brain trust series, “Voting Rights and Black America: Why Black Women Leadership Matters.” Foundation officials pointed out Black women’s historical significance and voting, including in 1968, when Shirley Chisholm made history as the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
Today, 43 Black women serve in the U.S. Congress and one in the Senate. Additionally, seven Black women serve as mayors in the nation’s 100 largest cities, and 307 serve in the state legislature.
“We understand why Black men are disgusted and exhausted. As a Black woman, I am disgusted and exhausted, too,” Roxey Nelson, vice president of Political and Strategic Campaigns for 1199SEIU in Florida, told Black Press USA. “But I encourage my brothers to ask themselves why are ‘they’ working so hard to suppress our votes if our votes don’t matter?
“Our vote has always been an act of resistance – an exercise of our power,” Nelson said. “This election even more so. This time, let’s vote like our collective soul depends on it because it does.”
Corryn Freeman, the state director at Florida for All Education Fund, said the message from Black women to Black men is evident.
“It should be ‘vote for our lives, vote for the collective Black, We,’” Freeman said. “Because we always will show up for you. It’s your turn to show up for our community.”
Added Moné Holder, a senior program director at New Florida Majority, “A message to all Black men this election cycle is that this is bigger than the Democratic Party. This is the fight of our lives. We cannot win this battle without you. Show up for us and with us at the ballot box.”