As the push for diversity in the political sphere continues, Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D) along with a handful of other human rights organization is hoping to bring more faces of color to political campaigns.
Abrams just hosted the first B.L.U.E. Institute, a five-day course training people of color on how to manage a political campaign. The training culminates in a job fair, where the new institute graduates can connect with political campaigns seeking staffers.
“We need to have a pipeline of young people who are ready to take on races, whether we’re talking about presidential level or state races, congressional races or issue campaigns,” Rep. Abrams said. “What I want for this institute and for the trainees to be seen as hot commodities for professionals who need to staff up quickly and staff up smart, and they will know that this is the place to come and that these are the young people that they should be hiring.”
Data shows that staffers of color are paid 30 percent less than White employees on average and typically are placed in outreach positions where they’re assigned to communities that reflect them.
Rep. Abrams said that she wanted to show enthusiastic, young politicos that they had the capabilities to hold any position within the campaign and that they could parlay their skills into other jobs.
“Often, you will find that if you’re African-American and you’re on a campaign, you’re asked to do outreach, particularly to the African-American community. You’re seen only in terms of your racial or ethnic identity and not necessarily in terms of the broadness of your skills,” Rep. Abrams said. “I want [attendees] to see if you have a special skill, here’s how you hone it. Because you’re good at outreach, you’d also be dynamic at fundraising. Because you’re really good at communication, you might be a great campaign manager.”
Rep. Abrams pointed out that going into the 2016 elections—a critical political year—it’s dire that staffs have people of color behind-the-scenes.
“When a campaign is reaching out to voters, it is critical…that you have people [on staffs] who have these experiences who are asking the questions and raising the issues,” she said. “What we will do with the B.L.U.E. Institute is continue to push the conversation forward, but also arm 45 young people with the capacity to carry on this conversation when they go home to their community.”
For more information on the institute, visit theblueinst.com.