Cynthia Nixon, a progressive candidate with politics similar to those of Bernie Sanders, is focused on making sure she attracts the necessary votes to elect her to office as governor of New York – and this means attracting black voters, specifically women. The last progressive opponent of Andrew Cuomo, the current centrist governor, failed to attract votes from the black population of New York City, resulting in losing the election.
Nixon has made some good steps when it comes to attracting the black vote, but she’s also dealing with opposition. A recent major misstep was referring to marijuana legalization as a reparation to the black community of New York in an interview with Forbes. Legalization of marijuana is a hot-button Democratic issue, but members of the black community do not think it quite counts as reparations. Nina Turner of Our Revolution explains that people took Nixon’s statement out of context, pointing back to her previous statement at a Progressive Change Campaign Committee event that black people have been arrested disproportionately for marijuana use, and it is effectively legal for white people but not the black community.
However, Nixon has also made some helpful choices. She appointed L. Joy Williams, NAACP’s Brooklyn president and a board chair of Higher Heights, as a senior adviser for her campaign, and she launched her campaign in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Many issues important to this location are important to the Democratic campaign as a whole – it is the poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, one of the poorest in the city as a whole, and is currently experiencing a housing crisis and preparing for a 15-month train shutdown starting in early 2019. It’s also majority black.
The fact is, that in the current political environment, economic justice cannot be discussed as a separate issue from racial justice. As the example of Brownsville, Brooklyn shows, the percentage of non-white individuals living in an area (especially black individuals) correlated significantly with economic issues such as housing and job issues. Nixon has recognized the issues in New York, but she still has far to go.