AOL BlackVoices had the chance to catch up with Anderson to discuss the event in D.C., as well as the political issues facing black women today.
What is your name and what do you do? Also, please describe your educational background and background in activism.
My name is Faye Anderson. I am a citizen journalist and political commentator. As a citizen journalist, I provide fact-based commentary and curate links to news and information that resonate with activists, thought leaders and political influentials.
But that's not how I pay the bills. My day job is as a public policy and social media consultant, and public speaker. I work primarily with nonprofit organizations to help them navigate the policymaking process and become more effective advocates. I focus on the intersection of technology, public policy and civic engagement.
I am a graduate of Stanford Law School and the City College of New York. I am also a lifelong activist. I grew up in Bed-Stuy, where I attended my first demonstration while still in a stroller.
Like most black folks, I was a Democrat. I became disaffected with the Democratic Party when I lived in California and changed my party affiliation to Republican. I later moved to DC and became active in national Republican politics.
Barack Obama is the first African-American president of the United States. His charm and charisma have been well received around the world, making him an "icon" for change in America.
Though I was moving up in the party ranks (when I left, I was a national vice chair of the Republican National Committee's New Majority Council), I was a burr in their side. I was very vocal about the GOP's illusion of inclusion, a metaphor I popularized in a New York Times op-ed piece. I am now a registered independent. My focus is on providing digestible bits of information that will motivate folks to do something other than leave snarky comments on blogs or social networks.
What is the event you're planning and what is the reason for holding the event?
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Black Women's Roundtable is holding a Power of the Sister Vote post-election briefing. The reason is captured by a Ghanaian proverb, "Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." Given the lack of diversity in the mainstream media, we have to tell the story of black voters and the 2010 election. And the story is, black voters turned out.
Pundits blame low black turnout for Democratic losses. They compare 2010 turnout with 2008, but that is like comparing apples and oranges. Turnout is always higher in a presidential election year. The relevant comparison is 2006, the last midterm election.
Exit polls show black voters made up 10 percent of the electorate, the same share as in 2006. We won't know the turnout rates until the U.S. Census Bureau releases its report on registration and voting in the 2010 election (in about a year).
Today, Dr. David Bosiits, a senior research analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, released a report, "Blacks and the 2010 Midterms: A Preliminary Analysis." And guess what, y'all -- black voters were in the house.
The bottom line: There was a modest increase in black turnout nationally. There were "impressive increases" in California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Texas. In Pennsylvania and Nevada, there were "small increases." To be sure, Democrats were hoping for a presidential-year surge of black voters but that didn't happen. It didn't happen because Democrats did nothing to make it happen. As National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Danny Bakewell wrote, the Democratic National Committee did "too little, too late."
So, we are gathering to tell our story. It is a story of making a way out of no way. Black voters did their part. And as in 2008, black women made up a disproportionate share of the black electorate.
We want to set the record straight. The headlines should have read: "Democrats lost because they were abandoned by white women, independents and seniors."
How do you feel the last election went for African Americans?
The 2010 midterm election was a disaster for African Americans. When Democrats lose, we lose. That's what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. In the 112th Congress, black Democrats will be a minority within a minority. The Congressional Black Caucus has gone from four full committee chairmanships to withholding support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi until Rep. James Clyburn's responsibilities are defined. Right now, he's an "assistant leader" without a portfolio.
Are black folks losing faith in Barack Obama? If so, why?
No, poll after poll shows President Obama's approval rating among African Americans is 90 percent. After all, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We have yet to see any evidence that Obama is addressing chronic joblessness in the African American community. Consider: On Election Day 2008, the national black unemployment rate was 11.7 percent. Two years later, it's 15.7 percent.
What do you expect to see in the next presidential election? How will it affect our community?
I expect President Obama will receive 95 percent of the black vote. That's a pretty safe prediction given that Democratic candidates typically garner 90 percent of the black vote. It remains an open question whether there will be a record turnout of black voters. Even if 100 percent of eligible black voters turned out and gave Obama 100 percent of their vote, that would not be enough to get Obama reelected.
Obama will have to shore up his base at the same time he reconnects with independents. He has his work cut out for him. A new Politico poll found that only 26 percent of Americans thinks he will be reelected. If the overall unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent and most Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction, then Obama will be one and done.
Do you feel that black leadership has been strengthened or weakened in the age of Obama?
I think black leadership has been weakened because they don't know what to do with a black president. Again, it's not about Obama being the "President of black America." As he reminds us, he's the President of all Americans. Aren't we Americans, too?
African Americans are the only group that has shown a reluctance to press their agenda.
Gays and lesbians continue to push for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Just today, President Obama met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and reiterated his support for the DREAM Act. He called on the lame-duck Congress to pass what is effectively amnesty for a select group of illegal immigrants.
The lame ducks' plate is overflowing. Among other things, the federal government will run out of money on Dec. 3, unemployment benefits will expire for hundreds of thousands of Americans at the end of November, and millions of Americans are looking for a job or worried about losing their job. Yet, Obama wants Congress to spend time addressing the needs of illegal immigrants. SMH. Where's the jobs bill? Where are the programs to help economically distressed (read: urban) communities? Black leaders should be marching every day and demanding President Obama address joblessness in the African American community.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?
Well, I don't think you can tell the AOL Black Voices audience anything ;-). That said, I would like to share the words of wisdom of soul singer-turned-philosopher James Brown: Get up, get into It, get involved. Too often our civic engagement begins and ends with voting. But voting is an event. To have a measurable impact one must stay engaged and get involved. It doesn't mean that one has to become an activist. I do it because it's in my DNA.
The Tea Party movement is a model for civic engagement. They made their voices heard at town hall meetings, letters and phone calls to Congress, rallies, etc. They vowed to hold members of Congress accountable to their agenda. And they did.
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Black folks likewise have to make their voices heard and hold their representatives accountable. If we don't, we will continue to be taken for granted and not get a fair return on the investment of our considerable political capital.
One of the takeaways of the 2010 election is a reminder to elected officials that they work for the people. When the people get involved, stuff happens.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.