I am in New York City for Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference that focuses on the intersection of technology, civic engagement, politics and government. I’m attending as one of nine Tumblr Fellows.
As the chief evangelist for the Cost of Freedom Project, a citizen-led initiative that’s powered by we the people, I’m particularly interested in the “We Government” breakout track. Speakers will present ideas and tips on “the variety of ways the people and their governments are using data to make civic life smarter and more responsive to public needs.”
With the voter suppression schemes in place across the country, voting rights advocates must work harder and smarter to remove barriers to the ballot box and ensure all votes are counted.
During a recent broadcast of “Hour of Power,” Al Sharpton said:
This is not a normal election. We don’t know what we’re dealing with.
That’s true. But we do know that True the Vote will be out in force challenging voters’ eligibility and causing confusion at the polls. They’re crowdsourcing voter suppression; we must crowdsource voter protection.
Yo! Philly Votes will aggregate, visualize and contextualize multiple sources of real-time Election Day incident reports so that problems can be addressed and corrected in real time. We’re leveraging the power of Web 2.0 to fight Voter Suppression 2.0.
As day follows night, black voters are blamed when Democrats lose an election. The 2010 midterm election was no exception.
Election after election, reports show African Americans turn out on Election Day. Democrats’ problem is with white Democrats who don’t show up or white independent voters who abandon them as they did in 2010.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports African Americans increased their share of the electorate, from 11 percent in 2006 (the last midterm election) to 12 percent in 2010. It is noted that black turnout was “not statistically different from the record high in 1998.”
In 2010, the overall turnout rate was 45.5 percent. White turnout was 46.7 percent compared to 43.5 percent for blacks.
There was a gender gap in black voter participation. Black female turnout was 43.5 percent. For black men, the turnout rate was 37.2 percent.
Hispanic and Asian turnout was 31.2 percent and 31.7 percent respectively.
As for Hispanics being “the largest and fastest growing minority,” those numbers don’t mean a thing if they can’t swing an election. And if you can’t vote, you don’t count.
The Census Bureau reports that 33.8 percent of Hispanics age 18 and over are registered to vote.
Tellingly, of the 32,457,000 voting-age Hispanics, 21,285,000 are citizens. Of those eligible to vote, 51.6 percent – 10,982,000 – are registered to vote.
As expected, my post about black female civil rights leaders being left out of the meeting sparked accusations that I am a “hater.” My response: Guilty as charged.
I hate that Wells Fargo was the “Lead Sponsor” of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention. And they’re still hooked up in Los Angeles.
The predatory lender was a “Principal Sponsor” of the National Urban League’s centennial conference, and will be back on board when the League kicks off its annual conference this week.
Now check this out: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board ordered Wells Fargo to pay an $85 million fine for steering borrowers with good credit into subprime loans. I hate when that happens.
The order reads:
The $85 million civil money penalty is the largest the Board has assessed in a consumer-protection enforcement action and is the first formal enforcement action taken by a federal bank regulatory agency to address alleged steering of borrowers into high-cost, subprime loans.
The order addresses allegations that Wells Fargo Financial sales personnel steered borrowers who were potentially eligible for prime interest rate loans into loans at higher, subprime interest rates, resulting in greater costs to borrowers. The order also addresses separate allegations that Wells Fargo Financial sales personnel falsified information about borrowers’ incomes to make it appear that the borrowers qualified for loans when they would not have qualified based on their actual incomes.
I have been asked to identify the black women leaders who should have been invited. I will not name names because that would be a betrayal of their trust. Although they know their stuff, they would be ostracized and penalized for breaking the silence.
And I would really hate for that to happen.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Wells Fargo for “allegedly preying upon African American borrowers during the housing bubble and steering them into high-cost subprime loans.”
It is hot as hell in DC. It is even hotter under the collars of some African American women who are asking: Are we not civil rights leaders?
The women were set off by the news that President Obama was scheduled to meet with the leaders of two civil rights organizations – National Urban League President Marc Morial and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. A readout of the meeting said "the President discussed the continued efforts his administration is making to spur job creation and economic growth."
The readout noted:
The President also reiterated that reducing unemployment, which disproportionately burdens the African-American community at 16.2%, remains a top priority for him and his Administration. The President also spoke with the two civil rights leaders about dramatic efforts his Administration has already made to address urban economic development through initiatives such as Strong Cities, Strong Communities, a program that acts to spur economic growth in urban centers while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently; the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions fund; and the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce.
This is the second time in two years that Obama has held a meeting with civil rights leaders and no black woman had a seat at the table.
In February 2010, the late Dr. Dorothy I. Height was the only black woman invited to the Urban Economy Summit. The then-97-year-old could not attend because of the extreme snow conditions.
There was extreme heat yesterday, but black women leaders felt a cold chill when they realized history was repeating itself. While they're not ready to go on the record, they told me they won't be silent much longer. They have earned a seat at the table. More important, they want to ensure issues of importance to black women and black families are addressed.
And lest the knee-jerk “hater” is bandied about, these are women who year-after-year -- election-after-election -- make things happen. All they're asking for is a little respect.