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Get Into These Black Women Running For Office In The 2018 Midterm Elections

Let's vote for #BlackGirlMagic on November 6.

Politics

This is it. You have the ball with 10 seconds to shoot. You are at the final stretch of a marathon. You have the chance to be a part of a history-making moment.


The final countdown to the 2018 Midterm Elections have officially begun.

There is so much at stake during the upcoming midterm elections cycle – immigration, gun control, affirmative action, reproductive health, police accountability, environmental protection, and more. If you don't vote, particularly in elections impacting your local communities, you are leaving your future and the future of those around you in the hands of those who may not have your best interest at heart. Take your power back. VOTE!

Related: Why It's Important To Use Our Voices To Vote

Amplified by initiatives like Michelle Obama's When We All Vote and Yara Shahidi's EighteenX18, Black women are coming together to encourage midterm voting and supporting a number of candidates, specifically the unprecedented number of Black women running for local and statewide positions across the country.

There are 57 Black women running for office in the 2018 midterm elections but to make sure you know any and every one that is running for office during the midterm elections, do your research by clicking here. Out of those 57 women, we've compiled a list of some influential names to look out for in the 2018 midterm elections. From Stacey Abrams (Georgia) to Maxine Waters (California), Black women – our mothers, sisters, aunties, and neighbors – are depending on us to be more than party supporters and organizers, but to take #BlackGirlMagic all the way to the polls.

These are the candidates to watch and rock your vote for:

Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding

via Pantsuit Politics

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress In Colorado's 5th District

Why She's Running:

Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding is both a pastor and a professor, but perhaps her biggest title will be the one she rocks as the first Black person to rep for the state of Colorado in Congress. According to Harper's Bazaar, her interest in running for elected office first sparked at the Women's March and as a result she's running because "Congress is overwhelmingly white and male, as an institution, it can't possibly grasp the challenges and aspirations of a nation that is significantly more female, and ethnically and culturally diverse. Our people deserve leaders in Washington who truly represent them because they come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Governor of Georgia

Why She's Running:

Stacey Abrams is a name that has been making waves in the headlines in the past year and has only intensified in recent months. And it's largely because she is a force to be reckoned with. The multi-hyphenate will go on to become the first Black female governor to ever hold that title in the United States, as well as the first Black woman to be nominated for governor by a major party for any state. Think about that. "We need a variety of perspectives at the decision-making table to ensure that no one is left out and left behind in our political system. I grew up in a working poor family, and my parents raised their six children with the values of faith, family, service, and responsibility. Those same beliefs guided me as I began my career in politics and guide me now as I run to become governor of Georgia," she told Harper's Bazaar, "I know that our beginnings do not dictate who we will become in the future. That is why I am running for governor of Georgia—to give those who do not see themselves represented in politics the opportunity to live up to their highest potential."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Lauren Underwood

Lauren Underwood

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress in Illinois' 14th District

Why She's Running:

At 31, Lauren Underwood is the youngest Black woman that's running for Congress this year, reigning supreme in her win for nomination over six mostly white candidates. She's also the first woman in her district to ever earn a Democratic nomination. The former Obama administration appointee and registered nurse said to Refinery29, "I decided to run for Congress when our congressman Randy Hultgren voted to take healthcare away from folks like me, people with pre-existing conditions."

For her, the erasure of basic human rights was enough to light the fire of her purpose. She continued, "The opportunity this year is to elect a Congress that better represents the experiences of the American people. Real lives, real families who for so long have not had a voice in the decision-making process in Washington."

Go Black Girl Magic, go!

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Jeannine Lee Lake

Jeannine Lee Lake

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress in Indiana's 6th District

Why She's Running:

Jeannine Lee Lake is yet another Black woman making history as a "first" this election season. She is the first Black woman to win a nom for a major party to run for Congress. For her, the decision to run had a lot to do with her four children, all of whom she adopted. Like most parents, she wants them to live their best lives. And that's rooted in politics. "My daughter asked me one day if the President of the United States hated Black people. I did not feel comfortable telling her that the President did not hate Black people," she admitted to Harper's Bazaar. "As I looked around the heartland I realized that this country and my beloved Indiana had become divided. Under the current leadership we had not seen the change that had been promised: better healthcare, no worry if a pre-existing condition exists, higher wages, and inclusiveness for all."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress in Massachusetts' 7th District

Why She's Running:

Ayanna Pressley is no stranger to politics. In fact, back in 2009, she became the first woman of color to ever be elected to have a seat at the table in the Boston City Council. More recently, in 2016, the New York Times noted her as one of 14 democrats to watch. And in 2018, she is showing us why by running for Congress in Massachusetts' 7th District, which will make her the first Black woman to represent the state in the House of Representatives. She has often been heard arguing that "the people closest to the pain should be the closest to the power." And in a recent debate, she said, "I'm not going to pretend that representation doesn't matter. But, it doesn't matter in how inclusive and represented we are. It matters because it informs the issues that are spotlighted and emphasized, and it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions. That's why it matters. You cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all of the people."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Melanie Levesque

Melanie Levesque

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Senate in New Hampshire

Why She's Running:

Women are running the world for New Hampshire, as they sent their historical first-ever all-female delegation to Congress. On par with that theme, Melanie Levesque is in the running to be the state's first-ever Black senator. And she believes she's more than qualified to be the woman for the job, boiling it down to the intersectionality of her identity, as well as empathy. She told Harper's Bazaar, "I wear many hats. I am a wife, mother, small business owner, and volunteer in my community. I am a woman of color who understands what it is like to be a minority. I bring many different perspectives to the table, but mostly the ability to listen, empathize and find common ground with the people I meet."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Erika Stotts Pearson

Erika Stotts Pearson

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress in Tennessee's 8th District

Why She's Running:

Erika Stotts Pearson will be the first Black woman to hold a seat in Congress from Tennessee if she wins this election day. She draws inspiration and gains drive from influential trailblazers like Shirley Chisholm, who was notably the first Black woman to ever run for President. She told Harper's Bazaar, "'You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines. You make progress by getting in the race and implementing ideas.' That quote sums up why I am running for Congress. I want to inspire people—especially women—to work hard and work together, because our goal is to bring opportunities back to our communities. There has never been a time better than now. Women want our voices at the table."

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

Maxine Waters

Jason Bell/Glamour

Political Party:

Democrat

What Office She's Running For:

Congress in California's 43rd District

Why She's Running:

I'm sure by now we are all privy to Auntie Maxine's "reclaiming my time" mantra, as well as the icon she's developed into for Liberals everywhere. Aside from her public disdain for Number 45 and never mincing her words, what the politician is using her influence for the most is as her status as Congresswoman for California's 43rd District. This year, Maxine was named one of TIME Magazine's Most Influential People and in a bio written by Yara Shahidi, this was said: "You would think that 41 years of public service would make Congresswoman Waters tired, but her laser focus is unmatched. When other policymakers criminalize protests, she is there, verbalizing our pain. She fights for funding to support neglected communities. And she takes to Twitter to raise her voice on our behalf, regardless if Congress is in session. In this time of sociopolitical unrest, Congresswoman Waters has been the brilliant, tenacious representative of the people that we all need."

In the 2018 Midterm election, Maxine Waters is once again running for Congress and we the people who identify with her unapologetic nature and her devotion to advocating for marginalized communities, definitely say she has our vote.

Learn more about her stance on the issues here.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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