I am a policy wonk so on Saturday, I attended a daylong conference on building bridges between African American and immigrant communities.
As I walked past the Princeton Club, I thought about New York Times columnist David Brooks lauding President-elect Barack Obama for assembling a Cabinet of Washington insiders and members of the club:
If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.
Truth be told, a lot of black folks already feel screwed. There is growing concern among black women leaders about whether a black woman will have a seat at the table.
It bears repeating that sisters had President-elect Obama's back from the South Carolina primary to Election Day.
Erica Williams, Study Director for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said:African American women in particular played a large role in this election, especially in several key battleground. More African American women voted in this presidential election than in any other.
I shared black women leaders' concerns with Ron Hayduk, a keen political observer and longtime democracy reform activist. Ron teaches at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, which is about as far from the rarified air of the Ivy League as one can get.
Ron told me:
He’s being very cautious to his detriment and to ours because he needs black women…A working class agenda has to have women of color for that to happen. What’s he going to do? Do it later if he gets around to it? How long do black woman have to wait. It’s nothing new.
What’s new is that we were expecting something different. People are fired up, black women especially are mobilized…It’s their time. It’s the people’s time. It’s going to be an opportunity lost. A chance missed. He’s going to go down if he doesn’t do it, and he’s going to take us with him.
Ron also noticed the Princeton Club on his way to the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, where the conference was held. He observed:
Those appointments don’t reflect the electoral coalition. It doesn’t look like the electoral coalition will be a part of the governing coalition…It’s more of the same. Maybe not the same old but it’s the same monied interests. Some are just retreads from the Clinton administration.
Ron’s observations were echoed by Bill Fletcher Jr. who, BTW, is a Harvard grad:
It’s up to us to realize our job is to shape Obama and not the other way around. He’s constructing a center-right administration. We’ve got to get organized, shape the discussion, and help the man be who he has to be for this moment.
For President-elect Obama’s three million donors and hundreds of thousands of campaign volunteers that would be "change we can believe in."