Why Is The Idea Of ‘Missing Black Millennials’ Resonating So Deeply?

Priyanka Prasad
A recent editorial published by The New York Times has hit the nail on the head regarding an issue with Democrats many have struggled to put into words.

bernie sanders

The New York Times published a piece today about the “missing black millenials,” delineating the ways in which current Democratic candidates are failing to adequately reach out to young black voters. The 2016 election is a post-Obama election: for Democrats, gaining the support of African-American voters is crucial, particularly considering these voters were so galvanized to act both in 2008 and 2012.

The NYT specifies how both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are operating on a superficial level in terms of outreach. They speak to important pastors and civil rights figures and organize rallies, but it’s not enough. Where are the meetings with #BlackLivesMatter organizers and supporters, the attempt to approach all corners of the black community? Simply voicing support cannot enact real change in terms of holding officers accountable for police brutality, for combating racial profiling, for making all African-Americans feel as equal, safe members of society.

Insightful editorials such as this are usually shared among political news junkies, those who follow the news closer than most, but they don’t necessarily permeate the mainstream. Yet this notion of the “missing black millennial” has hit a nerve—trending on Twitter, it garnered much attention and interest from hundreds of individuals, most likely because it touches on a subject that hints at a larger problem.

Year after year, politicians (particularly Democrats) harp on acquiring the millennial vote—young people are notoriously bad at turning out for elections. According to Pew, 51 percent of them are Democrats, and therefore integral to shifting election prospects in the Democrats’ favor. Within this pool of voters exists an untapped group of millennial black voters who are rarely, specifically addressed by politicians—yet these individuals are the ones we rely on to engender change, who are fighting the hardest to end certain systemic injustices. But they cannot do it alone; government cooperation and political leadership are essential to transforming the status quo. Unfortunately, our current crop of Democrats do not seem to fully committed to that.

As one Twitter user noted, “Why do blacks continue to look to the Dem's for change when their support has changed virtually nothing?”

This widespread disillusionment with Democratic candidates is important to acknowledge. It’s important because it calls out Democratic lip service in place of legislation. It brings attention to the waning support from a crucial community because it has been years, and things are not much better. If Hillary or Bernie want to succeed, they need to stop using black issues as platforms to gain support while doing very little in terms of actual engagement with the black community. “We are not satisfied with the Democratic Party’s mere acknowledgment of our issues, nor are we charmed by their willingness to appear in black churches”—policy is the only thing that is going to make voters come out, and the Democrats may need that support more than ever. 

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @gacollegenews