As the nation was gearing up for general elections this past spring, Jessica Byrd, a long time political operative, launched Democracy In Color, a media platform dedicated to race and politics in America.
Last week, along with Steve Phillips (author of Brown is the New White) and hundreds of dedicated Democrats from across the nation, Byrd conducted a conference call to brief participants on how they could become more engaged with the political process.
When Byrd started the Democracy In Color platform, her main concern was how people of color could be more involved, and she began asking how politicians can better spend their money to reach these populations. The website released a report card in June to address just that.
“We’re at a relay race moment right now in politics. There are critical questions and we want to be at the very beginning of that,” said Byrd during the call. Her hope is that the growing organization will continue to be an accountability partner for the Democratic Party. She told participants that people of color should be considered for roles such as the DNC chairperson and other lead positions in places like D.C. and on county levels.
Before handing the call over to Phillips, Byrd noted that one of the largest ways to help recruit voters for the next election is for politicians to redirect the money typically used for television ads, including hiring staff that can lay the groundwork within their communities. Phillips echoed Byrd’s sentiments:
“People of color are now 38 percent of the country. We can provide the cornerstones of an electoral majority.”
Phillips went on to speculate that the reason Democrats lost the 2016 fight for the White House is because the party did not challenge the whole country to take a stance.
“We didn’t have the lived experience of how to challenge racism,” he said, concluding that’s how Trump became a normalized candidate. Phillips, much like Byrd, also asserted there needs to be a move in re-investing massive amounts of money:
“We waste money on White swing voters; $2.5 million on TV ads in Arizona could have paid for 6,000 organizers that could have turned out more Latina voters. We want to create a multi-racial society instead of condemning racism and misogyny.”
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Together, Democracy In Color believes the focus should be on electing key positions within the DNC, as the DNC chair becomes an elected position when a party loses an election.
“They will be the container we run within. For the way that our voters are engaged, we need a leader who cares about us," said Phillips.
If you’re interested in getting involved, Byrd and Phillips ask that you sign the pledge on democracyincolor.org. They believe their campaign ensures all voices are heard. “It helps us to call for an open debate and dialogue about party leadership," said Byrd. “We want you to remember we are the base. People of color and progressives, we show up and out every time.”