As Election Day draws near on Nov. 3, critical questions are being asked to help voters decide who they will choose on their ballots, the issues on the table and what hangs in the balance for Black America.
In the first of a three-part series, CNN commentator and political analyst Karen Finney hosts TV One’s “Represent the Vote: Our Voice, Our Future” conversation series taking a deep dive with an expert panel about what’s at stake for Black people this election from healthcare, the economy to the Supreme Court.
Lia Epperson, professor at American University Washington College of Law says American democracy is at a crossroads.
“We really are at a critical juncture between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passing and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. This is possibly the largest ideological shift I would say since Thurgood Marshall stepped down and Clarence Thomas took over,” said Epperson.
“Everything is at stake. Health care, reproductive rights, voting rights, election protection, employment laws, you name it.”
Epperson continued that the confirmation of Barrett as associate justice will deepen an already steep political divide.
“We have a president who has publicly stated that he may not acquiesce to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election. And what we do know is if this election is contested the place where it goes is to the Supreme Court.”
“So he is further politicizing the process by choosing the person who should go on the court in the midst of a presidential election.”
Rev. Shavon Arline-Bradley, president and founding principal of R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions LLC, says not only will Barrett’s confirmation increase the conservative tilt of the Supreme Court but threaten the future of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
“The supreme court justice is very much connected to the healthcare fight in ways we could have never imagined,” she said. “Issues like preexisting conditions, looking at mandates, these are issues that will come again before this court.”
“And what makes this so polarizing is we are talking about adjusting a healthcare law in the midst of a pandemic.”
Arline-Bradley continued, “If you look at the data African Americans between the years of 2010-2016 saw the largest decrease in uninsured populations. Now what has happened? Between 2017-2018 those numbers have begun to creep up.”
Host Finney said that several surveys pointed to racial injustice and the economy as being top issues for Americans this election.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the U.S.’s economy and labor force resulting in unemployment claims that topped one million.
Dr. Avis DeWeever says the economic fallout from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is familiar.
“COVID has specifically attacked Black business in a very devastating way,” she said. “It reminds me of foreclosures we had just a few years back where we lost roughly half of our wealth due to the foreclosure crisis.”
“Now on the back of COVID we’ve lost roughly half of our businesses due to this crisis. Both of those took major chunks out of our wealth. We need to make sure we provide access to capital. Families need to be able to grow wealth by growing their businesses.”
The wealth topic continued to homeownership a key factor in wealth-building for families.
Shermichael Singleton, a writer, commentator, political consultant and host of Global Perspective, a talk show host, said that before homeownership, there must be a hard look at student loan debt which also disproportionately impact Blacks and delays home-buying.
“It’s really difficult to focus on buying your first home or a condo when you’re paying thousands of dollars a month in student loans,” he said.
“I think before we can even have a conversation about building wealth and sustaining that wealth we have to make college education far more accessible. If that becomes more accessible we can build wealth, sustain it and pass it down to other generations.”
The next episode in the series is “The Intersection of Race and Gender in Politics and the Power of the Black Female Vote,” debuting Thursday, Oct. 29, at noon on TV One’s YouTube and Facebook channels.