According to mainstream media reports, Joe Biden’s Thursday announcement to seek the White House in 2020 has some women of color feeling concerned that the would-be Democrat nominee doesn’t reflect the party’s desire for increased diversity.
“I know that we have been cultured to feel that only the white man can save us,” said Roxy D. Hall Williamson, left-wing activist and organizer of “She the People” presidential forum – focused solely toward women of color.
Williamson added, “I just don’t feel like Biden is our answer.”
LaTosha Brown, co-founding member of the “Black Votes Matter” group, said “I’m over white men running the country,” while doubting Biden’s ability to “beat Trump.”
Although Biden has stood out in Democrat polls before having even announced his candidacy, his struggles with female voters, particularly women of color, could prove to be detrimental as he looks to oppose President Trump in the upcoming election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to enter the Democratic presidential race is causing consternation among some Democrats, particularly women of color, who have been hoping for a nominee who better reflects the nation’s diversity.
At the She the People forum, billed as the first presidential forum focused on women of color, Roxy D. Hall Williamson’s shoulders slumped at the mention of Biden, who made his campaign announcement on Thursday.
“I know that we have been cultured to feel that only the white man can save us,” the LaMarque, Texas, organizer said Wednesday. “I just don’t feel like Biden is our answer.”
Biden’s candidacy is likely to reshape the Democratic race, which has put the party’s diversity on display. The group of eight 2020 hopefuls who spoke at the forum was comprised of one black man, one black woman, three other women, a Latino man and two white men, all making the case for why they should be the nominee.
Black female voters will play a critical role in the Democratic Party’s attempt to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. An inability to earn their support in past cycles has spelled political peril for Democratic candidates. For his part, Biden has maintained strong ties to the African American community over the decades.
The raucous, standing-room crowd in the 1,800-person capacity auditorium at the historically black Texas Southern University listened intently as the candidates were questioned about maternal mortality, immigration, tribal sovereignty, income inequality and other issues. Attending were Sen. Cory Booker, former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said she was initially eager for Biden to enter the race but now sees “strong alternatives” to him.
“I’m over white men running the country,” Brown said. “I don’t know if him getting in changes the field. He has name recognition, but his strength is also his weakness. Who is his announcing going to surprise?”
She added: “To ignite the kind of base that needs to be ignited to beat Trump, I’m not sure he moves them.”
In interviews, black women repeatedly pointed to a singular issue plaguing Biden’s candidacy: his handling of the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Anita Hill, a black professor who faced a panel of white male lawmakers about her sexual harassment allegations against Thomas. Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, was the committee’s chairman.
Williamson said that she was “still salty” about the role Biden played in the hearing and that “it wasn’t OK then and it’s not OK now.”
Adoneca Fortier, 55, said that she hoped that Biden would more fully address his role in the hearings, perhaps by extending a personal apology to Hill.
“If there is an apology, I think it would be genuine because I think he realizes what’s happening now,” Fortier said, adding that she hoped Biden would choose a woman of color as his running mate.
On Thursday, Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said the former vice president had spoken to Hill.
“They had a private discussion where he shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country,” Bedingfield said.