State News

January 15, 2018

A Conversation That Is Long Overdue…

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Written by: Reggie Hales

A Conversation That Is Long Overdue…
By State Senator Douglas McCrory

Bobby Gibson

Connecticut State Senator Douglas McCrory

As a new year begins, many of us are looking back on 2017 as a difficult year for a variety of reasons. Nationally, we are coming to terms with the realities of an unorthodox president. On the state level, we are facing one fiscal crisis after the next. And in every corner of industry, people we once revered have been subject to scandal. Despite the tumultuous nature of the last year, I believe, there’s a silver lining. The African American community is “woke” in terms of the power of our voice.

One needs to look no further than the recent U. S. Senate election in Alabama, which resulted in a partisan shift for the first time in decades. We demonstrated, and the nation learned, that Black Votes Matter and Black people wield significant power to influence the outcome of elections. Whether it was a visceral reaction to the rise of white supremacy sympathizers, the disrespect from the administration, or just that Black people are simply fed up with the rhetoric of Republicans and perhaps Democrats. The truth is that over the span of a half-century little has been done by either party to significantly change the socioeconomic health of Black communities. It seems that for every step forward, we often take two steps back. And quite frankly, we have been too nice about it. It’s time for a long overdue conversation.

Each election cycle, the votes of the African American community are sought after and publicized like the latest fashion trend. Yet, for all the effort that is put into securing our vote, once the election is over, our support is taken for granted over and over. It’s no wonder many believe that the African American community is complicit with the Democratic Party. Just one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, he uttered the following words:

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference… I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”

While we have thus far fulfilled Johnson’s prophecy, disparities remain. Most of us would be challenged to identify predominantly Black or Brown communities with high rates of homeownership, employment, thriving businesses, quality schools and adequate healthcare. Yet we continue to elect people to public office who seem reluctant to commit to systemic improvement. The onus is on us to ensure that those seeking public office understand that our votes – and the future of their political careers – have conditions, that our concerns must be addressed.

My role as State Senator is to listen and advocate for my constituents and represent their interests while navigating the ins and outs of Connecticut’s political system. As one of just a few legislators of color, it is an uphill battle. The voice of urban communities is muffled at the State Capitol, and even the slightest gains are subject to political whims at the local, state or federal level. Every decision is a political decision whether it’s raising taxes, cutting services that affect the vulnerable or the continual redlining of communities – all of which aid in reducing opportunities for the underserved. Our support for those running for office must align with their support of the policies and political agendas that positively shape our fate. We must take ownership of our ability to determine who leads our state in 2018.

The recent budget stalemate is a prime example. With declining revenues, the Legislature was forced to make excruciating but necessary cuts to state agencies, municipalities and state-funded non-profit organizations. These cuts will no doubt impact communities of color and we have to develop our collective agenda in response. We must know that whoever plans to run for office, whoever we decide to support, is committed to implementing policies that reflect our agenda. Moreover, we must judge those who are currently in office by what they have done. This election year must be about prioritizing policies.

The silver lining previously mentioned is your voice. We proved it in Virginia. We proved it in Alabama. We proved it here with the upcoming special session to address the Medicare Savings Program. We have another major proof point to address in the coming months, so it is time for our elected officials to show and prove for us. And it is long past time for the days of taking our vote for granted to end.

Douglas McCrory is a Connecticut State Senator serving the 2nd District – Hartford, Bloomfield & Windsor.

About the Author

Reggie Hales


by Reggie Hales

by Reggie Hales



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