In politics, getting even 60 percent of the vote is considered a landslide. But in the 2012 presidential election, 93 percent of black voters cast their ballots for President Barack Obama—politics doesn’t even have a word for that kind of margin. So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that a young, African-American woman like me is a Democrat. But it’s worth thinking about and discussing why it’s not a surprise.
I didn’t have it easy as a kid. Having grown up in public housing in one of New York City’s lowest-income neighborhoods, I know firsthand how families struggle in difficult economic times. When I worked my way up to law school, I began seeing that a big part of the problem had to do with government neglect. I saw that neighborhoods like Brownsville, Brooklyn, simply weren’t a priority for policymakers who sailed into office on campaign contributions from big businesses at the expense of working families. Big-time moments like Hurricane Katrina further ingrained that reality onto the hearts and minds of African Americans across this country, and made too many of us cynical about the idea that government could be part of the solution.
But my own story shows that’s not true. I’m in a position to run for the New York State Assembly today, in part, because government extended a hand up to my family when we needed it. I grew up in public housing, attended Head Start and went to good public schools. I understand that these were all investments in my future, and along with hard work, they enabled me to follow my dreams and come back to serve my community.
Fundamentally, that’s why I’m running for office—because I believe people like me need a voice in the halls of power. We need more policymakers advocating for more investments in our citizens, our communities and working toward sustainable job creation. We can create jobs and help people help themselves through better schools, more public transit and broader access to health care for working families.
I’m a Democrat because my party believes in investing in people like me. Through good schools and safe streets, early intervention and ongoing support, I and others like me have had the opportunity to succeed, and I am committed to making sure that others get the same opportunity. In my view, today’s Republican Party hasn’t made the same commitment to addressing those concerns, and is too invested in trying to characterize any form of assistance as charity, rather than an investment.
Moreover, today’s Republican leadership has regularly displayed a blatant disregard for the rights of Americans like me by pushing legislation across the country that attempts to make it more difficult for African Americans and Latinos to vote.
I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved. But I also know that I didn’t get here alone. And that’s why, as a Democrat, I’ll continue to stand with the 93 percent of black Americans who voted Democratic in 2012 by continuing to fight for investment in all of our communities and all of our futures.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.
Lori Boozer is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood and a candidate for the state Assembly in New York’s 55th District. Follow her on Twitter.