What Do The 2019 Elections Mean For 2020?

If the 2019 elections are any indication, Republicans need to worry about their viability come 2020. In Virginia, Democrats have majorities in both its upper and lower houses. With a Democratic governor, Virginia has an unprecedented opportunity to shape public policy, especially around gun control, a key concern for many. In West Virginia, the candidate backed by 45 lost. Many will say it is because of the Republican governor, Matt Bevin, was extremely unpopular. If so why was 45 propping him up? He must have thought he had a prayer.

Forty-five notwithstanding, Bevin’s Democratic opponent, Attorney General Andy Beshear, scored a very narrow victory, getting 49.2 percent of the vote, compared to Bevin’s 48.8. Just five thousand votes separate the two men, but a narrow win is still a victory, and 45 has egg on his face. Usually, when 45 shows up and takes it over the line, the base is supposed to get fired up. Not this time.

While Democrats scored some gains, the Mississippi governor’s mansion is still in Republican hands. Mississippi has the largest concentration of black people— 39 percent— of any state, but African Americans remain underrepresented among elected officials in Mississippi. Is it voter turnout? An inability to forge a progressive coalition? Or, are race matters so hardwired in Mississippi that Republicans will always prevail?

Speaking of other race matters, the affirmative action ballot measure that appeared on the Washington state ballot failed, which is disappointing news for those who think that we have not yet met diversity goals. Washington state was one of the first to ban affirmative action in 1998 (California’s anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 also passed that year). After California and Washington, other states followed, including Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.

Although the affirmative action measure— Referendum 88— lost very narrowly, it still failed. That means that state agencies can’t openly recruit diverse candidates, and contracting agencies can’t make special efforts to reach out to those who are underrepresented. And since the anti-affirmative action measure passed in 1998, the numbers of minority and women-owned businesses have dropped in the state. That’s a step backward!

One of the reasons Referendum 88 failed was because a group of Chinese immigrants was among those who campaigned to defeat the affirmative action measure. Former governor Gary Locke, an Asian American man who describes himself as a product of affirmative action, fought for the referendum. But the majority of voters rejected the measure. So much for the “people of color” coalition.

Still, it is interesting that a recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of white people in this country narrowly favor affirmative action, with 65 percent advocating affirmative action for women and 61 percent supporting affirmative action for minorities. These levels of support are the highest since Gallup began polling on this issue. Perhaps the recent focus on the wealth gap has sensitized some people to inequality. In any case, as positive as the poll was, it didn’t translate to the vote.

The affirmative action loss is bad news because it may signal other states to avoid pro-affirmative action referenda. Further, the loss confirms that many are satisfied with the lack of diversity that is commonplace in politics, the workplace, and elsewhere. And, given the composition of this Supreme Court, challenges to affirmative action that come before them are likely to weaken efforts to encourage diversity in employment, contracting, and education. Several of the justices have already openly opined that race should matter less. Their overturning of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is evidence of their race myopia. It is as if these judges are oblivious to the persistence of racism. It is as if they ignore the headlines about the police shootings of Black men. It is as if the wealth gap means nothing to them.

So, what do we learn from the last elections? Democrats have a chance to defeat some Republicans and may yet prevail in the 2020 elections. But race remains a divisive factor in our country. And unfortunately, we have a President who will use race divisiveness to his advantage. Count on the 2020 election to be as contentious as the 2016 election was, but hopefully with different results.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author, media contributor and educator. Her latest project MALVEAUX! On UDCTV is available on youtube.com. For booking, wholesale inquiries or for more information, visit www.juliannemalveaux.com

Fannie Lou Hamer Died Of Untreated Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the proliferation of pink ribbons is about to start. Predatory capitalists will make breast cancer their cause, producing pink t-shirts, pocketbooks, everything. It’s a mixed blessing, this awareness, because too many will make this both a marketing and a profit-making opportunity, while others will wonder how they can use their health insurance to afford a mammogram. Health equity is a major issue, and there is a gap in health care and health access. It is especially sharp when we address the issue of breast cancer.

While black women get breast cancer at a lower rate than white women, we are 42 percent more likely to die from it. And young black women, those under 35, are twice as likely as white women to get breast cancer, and three times as likely to die from it. Black women are also three times as likely as white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, an especially aggressive form of breast cancer.

I am privileged to know Ricki Fairley, a triple-negative breast cancer survivor, and marketing maven who now holds a leadership role at the nation’s oldest and largest black women’s breast cancer network group. Sister’s Network, describes itself as a “survivorship organization” that provides support for black women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Ricki only recently joined the organization as its Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and National Programs, and she is on a mission to raise awareness about breast cancer in the African American community. Propelled by her own survivorship story, but also by the many women she has provided support for, she is passionate about the reasons that African American women must be informed and engaged around breast cancer issues.

Civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, died of untreated breast cancer. She was just 59 when she made her transition, and one can only speculate about why this fearless leader had an untreated disease. Her untreated breast cancer was not the first collision she experienced with our racist health care system.

At 44, she had surgery to remove a tumor, and the hospital also gave her a hysterectomy without her consent. Sterilizations without consent happened to lots of black women in southern states. It eroded the trust that many black women had in our health care system. Had Fannie Lou Hamer noticed a lump would she be inclined to return to the health care system that had already oppressed her? Probably not.

Fannie Lou Hamer was poor and vocally black in the South. Serena Williams is wealthy, black and an international superstar. Despite her privilege, Williams also experienced the differential way the health care system treats black women. Serena might have died giving birth to her daughter, Alexandra. Because Williams was gracious enough to share her story, we are reminded that black women are all too often ignored or dismissed by health care providers.

Racial bias in the medical field is not only real, but also life threatening. Reference Fannie Lou Hamer. Ask Serena Williams. Consider the thousands of black women that are being sidelined by a health care system that does not hear our voices.

What must we do to ensure that black women don’t carry the heavy burden of health disparities? We must be mindful and aware of the risks of breast cancer. We must talk about breast care with our sisters and our young ‘uns. We must engage in a policy conversation about the ways health insurance can support our breast health. Too often, health insurance covers some, but not all, of the cost of screening. We must engage our civic organizations in breast health education.

We must remember Fannie Lou Hamer, who said she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” That means as tired as we are of being tired, we must also be committed to taking care of ourselves. Too many studies say that black women ignore self-care for the care of others.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a leader and an icon. She was also a black woman who gave voice to her tiredness and the way it impacted her. In saying that she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she challenged us all to be less sick, less tired and more self-aware. If we celebrate her, we must hear her.

The health care system is biased against black women, and we must take our health care in our own hands. Neither sick, nor tired, just empowered and in October— Breast Cancer Awareness Month— be supportive of organizations like the Sister’s Network, an organization that provides opportunities and services for the black women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. We must do this in the name of Fannie Lou Hamer.

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest project MALVEAUX! On UDCTV is available on youtube.com. For booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visit: www.juliannemalveaux.com

OPINION: Let’s Clamp Down On Tobacco And Vaping Product Access For Young People

— Nearly half a million people die every year from complications from smoking. About a tenth of them never put a cigarette to their lips – they die from exposure to second-hand smoke. Death from tobacco is, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of preventable death. But too many people, enticed by advertising, think that smoking is so “cool” that they embrace it. And the tobacco industry spent more than $9 billion on smoking advertising, or about a million dollars an hour.

For too many, cigarettes are a desperate addiction, encouraged by pernicious advertising. The addiction hits folks of color – Black and brown folks — hardest. We are more likely to be exposed to heavy advertising, more likely to become addicted, and more likely to die from complications of smoking addiction. Public policy can help ameliorate this challenge, perhaps, by further restricting who can buy tobacco and when. Because addictions start early, public policy can help by supporting efforts underway to limit the sale of nicotine to those who are under 21.

Instead, unfortunately, some would prefer to restrict the sale of vaping products in particular to keep them out of the hands of children. Why not just further limit the sale of all tobacco products? The companies that manufacture vaping products, like the market leader Juul, are to be commended for attempting to protect young people from the deleterious effects of their products. But their recently accelerated activism is only one small step toward ensuring that young people are protected from the harmful effects of smoking, and they cannot do it alone.

Very recently, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, resigned for “family reasons” (don’t you love it when white men suddenly discover their families when they are in hot water). At the same time, we learned that too many chains, like Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens, along with gas stations, are breaking the law by selling cigarettes and other nicotine products to young people.

But here’s the deal. It doesn’t make sense to regulate the sale of nicotine products, like vaping, without looking at the sale of nicotine products, like cigarettes. Children (yes, despite their protests, I think of anyone under 21 as a child) shouldn’t be purchasing alcohol or tobacco. Period. End of conversation. They aren’t grown. They are susceptible to addiction. The law should protect them and penalize those who make it easy for them to access these products.

But the law does not protect. Instead, legislators selectively go after some products, while protecting others. If legislators understood the damage that nicotine and tobacco products do to people, especially young people, they’d be rushing to outlaw them. Instead, because tobacco is big business, the industry is protected. Furthermore, products that attempt to ameliorate the harmful sides of smoking, like vaping, are subjected to unreasonable scrutiny, even outlawed. To their credit, vaping companies are owning their role in possible addiction and standing for a ban on selling any nicotine products to children.

Part of this is personal for me. I’ve written before about my mom’s smoking addiction, which has led to her developing COPD and emphysema diseases in her ninth decade. But it’s more than the personal. It’s about the ways that public policy can protect young people, even as they make poor choices.

Follow the money, goes the trope. Who benefits from youngsters buying tobacco and nicotine products? Why do legislators protect them? Why would legislators crack down on vaping, but not cigarettes? Who benefits? If we follow the money, we have to monitor the lobby. Who has power in this game?

We always need to follow the money when we look at the ways that some products are offered to the market and others are restricted. We always need to follow the money when we realize that there are always beneficiaries in a society that has predatory capitalism at its roots. We don’t need more children being exposed to addiction. We shouldn’t outlaw vaping products without outlawing the sale of tobacco to children. I appreciate some manufacturers for joining many others in standing up against companies like Walmart, Walgreen’s and the others that are making big dollars selling tobacco and nicotine products to children. It needs to stop. Now. Legislators need to step up and protect our children from this destructive addiction!

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via www.amazon.com for booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visit www.juliannemalveaux.com

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.