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Black Census Project Reveals Electorate’s Concerns—and Power

Black Futures Lab just released the results of the largest survey of Black people in the United States since Reconstruction. The Black Census Project, developed in partnership with Color of ChangeDemosSocioanalítica Research and 30 grassroots organizations, surveyed more than 30,000 Black people across the country to delve deep into their political ideas and realities.

Among the sampled group, there are communities who are often missing or underrepresented in traditional surveys: people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ people, Black immigrants and Black conservatives and Republicans. Black women made up 60 percent of respondents due to the critical role they play in political and electoral organizing. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed overall were between the ages of 18 and 29.

Although the respondents reported a high level of electoral participation, more than half of them said that politicians do not care about them or their interests. 

“Candidates at every level, and especially those running for president, are being advised to follow a playbook for reaching Black voters that is ineffective, insincere and sometimes even embarrassing,” Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday (May 28). “The Black Census shows that the Black electorate wants policies that improve our lives, not pandering photo ops at Black institutions.”

Per the report, Black respondents overwhelmingly said that economic issues are the most pressing concerns for their families and communities:

  • Nine in 10 Black Census respondents (90 percent) view wages too low to sustain a family as a problem in the community, and a large majority (85 percent) support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • More than 80 percent of respondents see rising college costs as a problem in the community (85 percent), and a similar percentage favor making college affordable for any person who wants to attend (84 percent).
  • Most of the respondents agree that the lack of affordable health care is a problem in the community (86 percent), and nearly all consider it the government’s role to provide health care for all Americans (90 percent). 
  • Almost 9 in 10 say that the lack of affordable housing is a problem in the community (86 percent), and agree that the government should provide adequate housing (87 percent). 
  • More than three-quarters support increasing taxes on individuals earning $250,000 or more, and nearly 60 percent oppose reducing corporate taxes. 

Respondents also cited policing and criminal justice as major areas of concern:

  • The vast majority of Black Census respondents see the excessive use of force by police officers (83 percent) and police officers killing Black people (87 percent) as problems in the community. 
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) agree that holding police officers responsible for the misconduct would improve police-community relations, while 60 percent favor requiring police officers to wear body cameras. 
  • Nearly 90 percent of Black Census respondents view gun violence as a problem in the community. 
  • Respondents express strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement (85 percent favorable) and a majority (55 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of the [National Rifle Association].
  • More than 4 in 5 Black Census Respondents (84 percent) favor restoring the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people.

“Campaigns that fail to understand or try to remedy the ways structural racism damages Black people’s lives are doomed,” Garza wrote in an op-ed, published in The New York Times on Tuesday. “Without this analysis, their solutions will always miss the mark when it comes to Black voters.”

Read the full Black Census Project report here.

Catherine Lizette Gonzalez

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