As protests over racism and police violence continue to escalate, voters are looking to 2020 presidential candidates to take a stand on the injustices black people face, says Virginia Tech expert Brandy Faulkner.

Quoting Faulkner

“It's simple—we need a sincere acknowledgement of the injustices black people face in law enforcement and in the criminal justice system as well as a plan to address them. Neither presidential candidate has moved completely in that direction.”

“Trump talked about George Floyd’s death as though it were an isolated incident, divorced from the larger context of aggressive policing and disproportionate police violence in black communities. He expressed his sympathy to the Floyd family and then immediately threatened to have the National Guard execute anyone looting during the protests.”

“Biden has expressed more empathy and at least has some connection to the broader culture of racism, but he did not mention the ways in which his own legislation while serving in the U.S. Senate helped contribute to this problem.”

“The history of state violence against black men and women is well-documented, and the community has pleaded with politicians to pay attention. Both candidates have made serious mistakes when dealing with this issue, but for better or worse, more is expected of Biden.”

“Biden should stop taking black voters for granted. The symbolism associated with Biden gives him a very strong base in the community, but, it’s also a base that he has not cultivated well. Many in the black community had been waiting for someone like him to enter the race—someone from the old guard with name recognition and deep political ties. Someone relatively low-risk. He has done very little since then to reach out to black voters and he should spend more time understanding the quality of life issues that the black community faces, not 30 years ago, but right now. And, he should adjust his policies accordingly.”

“This topic has many implications for the black community and for the country as a whole. Candidates should not ignore it and expect to retain the support of black voters.” 

About Faulkner

Brandy Faulkner is collegiate assistant professor of political science and the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her areas of specialization include constitutional and administrative law, race and public policy, and critical organization theory. She teaches courses in public administration, constitutional law, administrative law, research methods, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. View her full bio here.

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