Calls for Joe Biden to select a Black woman to be his vice-presidential running mate were being amplified as the presumptive Democratic nominee’s self-imposed deadline to make his announcement was rapidly approaching. Of all the groups making their preferences for Biden’s vice president known, the collective campaign in favor of a Black woman seemed to be the most prominent ahead of the Democratic National Convention next week.
That was especially true on Monday when a group of more than 100 Black male leaders used the most forceful language yet by “requiring” Biden to pick a Black woman running mate. The statement — which was backed up by major star power with the likes of some of the biggest names in entertainment, politics, religion and politics — came a week after a series of racist attacks against the Black women reportedly on Biden’s shortlist of people he is considering to join him at the top of the Democratic ticket.
The statement described “the urgency for that pick” as going “from something that SHOULD happen to something that HAS to happen” and lamented how the Black women under consideration were “not just being vetted in this VP process but unfairly criticized and scrutinized.”
Those who signed the statement included Sean “Diddy” Combs, Charlamagne Tha God, Rev. William J. Barber, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, NBA star Chris Paul and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, among dozens of other notable names.
The statement predicted Biden’s election demise if the former vice president didn’t heed its guidance.
“Failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election,” the statement ended. “We don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils and we don’t want to vote the devil we know versus the devil we don’t because we are tired of voting for devils—period.”
That statement came after a Concerned Black Women Leaders group wrote an open letter to denounce “racist” attacks on the Black women Biden has been considering, including Stacey Abrams, California Rep. Karen Bass, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
“We are not your Aunt Jemimas,” the open letter from the Concerned Black Women Leaders said in part in reference to a Virginia mayor who used the racist comparison in a Facebook post that he eventually deleted last week.
“While some of the relentless attacks on Black women and our leadership abilities have been more suggestive than others, make no mistake–we are qualified and ambitious without remorse,” the open letter continued. “We are servant leaders — motivated by a desire to uplift and advance our communities and nation. And we will not tolerate racist or sexist tropes consistently utilized in an effort to undermine our power. No matter who you are supporting for Vice President, you should be equally outraged by the blatant disrespect of Black women.”
Using less specific terms, She the People — “a national network connecting women of color to transform our democracy” — similarly implored Biden against considering white women to be his running mate. Reacting in May to the news that Biden was vetting Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, She The People called it “a dangerous and reckless choice.” She The People wnt on to insist that “The Biden campaign needs to choose a woman of color who will solidify the multiracial coalition we need to win.”
However, with all that said, it is still unclear who Biden will pick. He’s been relatively mum on the topic and very noncommital on the multiple occasions when he’s been asked if he will select a Black woman. He has, however, indicated that no matter who runs alongside him, his cabinet “will look like America,” suggesting it would have the same multi-cultural makeup as the United States’ population. “Both from vice president to Supreme Court to Cabinet positions to every major position in the White House. It’s critically important that be the case.”
He made similar comments during an interview in April.
While having a racially diverse cabinet is by no means a consolation prize, not choosing a Black woman to be his running mate could have an adverse effect on Biden’s candidacy.
An analysis in the Washington Post last month suggested that Biden has already let on that he would not be selecting a Black woman to be his running mate. Noting that Biden has previously said he wants a running mate who is “simpatico with me, both in terms of personality as well as substance,” the Post suggested that was near impossible with a Black woman because “many of [Biden’s] deepest political alliances are with people of similar backgrounds, mainly white men.”
With that said, obviously, Biden is not considering a male for his running mate. And while the topic of Black women VPs has been a hot one, there are still multiple white women on Biden’s short-list, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
A poll in April found that Biden running with a Black candidate could boost his chances of winning the 2020 election.
Picking a white running mate could be seen as a slap in the face of African Americans since Black voters have been largely credited with propelling Biden’s candidacy after Sanders jumped out to an early lead following the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in two very white states.
The logic behind choosing a Black woman as a running mate stems from the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton failed to turn out Black voters. In particular, 4.4 million voters decided against voting at all, including one-third of them who were Black, according to the Washington Post. If Biden chooses a Black running mate, that should, in theory, spur more of those voters who sat out the last election to participate this time around with most of them, in all likelihood, casting ballots against Donald Trump and ensuring a Democratic victory.