Despite Appearance Of Political Clout, Blacks Fare Worse Than Whites In Converting Policy Preferences To Law

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Written by Ann Brown
From left, Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., and Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., part of a small group of freshman representatives calling themselves Task Force Sentry, gather for an interview with The Associated Press to discuss their focus on election security, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

More and more African Americans are being elected to political office. In fact, for “the fifth time in a row, the new Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever,” Pew Research reported.

So does having more Blacks with political power mean Blacks in America see progress for themselves? Not really. Apparently, “the appearance of Black political clout is deceiving. Despite their gains in participation and representation, Blacks continue to fare worse than whites in converting their policy preferences into law,” The Atlantic reported.

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Even having a Black man in the office of the President didn’t push African Americans as a whole forward. 

“Ten years ago, Barack Obama took office as the first black president of the United States – a proud moment for many Americans. Obama’s election represented another advance in the slow but steady progress Blacks have made in recent decades in gaining a greater foothold in political leadership, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Cabinets of recent presidents. But they have lagged in the Senate and in governorships,” Pew Research reported.

Still, when many Black voters go to the polls and elect Black representatives there is a hope that the move will help the community. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, many Blacks see political representation as a potential catalyst for increased racial equality. 

“Roughly four-in-ten Black adults (38%) said that working to get more Black people elected to office would be a very effective tactic for groups striving to help Blacks achieve equality. Whites were less likely to view this as an effective way to bring about increased racial equality (24% said it would be very effective),” Pew Research reported.

But this isn’t the way it pans out. In Obama’s first term there was only one Black Cabinet secretary; Trump’s administration has the same.

“When Obama took office, he appointed only one Cabinet member who was Black – Attorney General Eric Holder. During Obama’s second term, there were four Black Cabinet appointees. The only Black Cabinet member to have been appointed by Trump so far in his presidency is Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development,” Pew Research reported.

And despite having elected a Black president have been only four governors in U.S. history — and there are none today.