Black Maryland’s numerical clout …
Approximately 3,954,027 voters are registered to vote in Maryland. With a black population hovering around 30% of the Free State, if we used that percentage to determine the number of black registered voters in Maryland, we come up with approximately 1,186,208.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton received approximately 740,000 more votes in Maryland than Donald Trump picking up ten electoral college votes in the process. If black Maryland voters, 90% of whom vote Democratic, had decided to either stay home or vote “down ballot” on other issues, Mr Trump might have left Maryland with ten extra electors.
More importantly, the black community in Maryland may have been in a position in the 2018 midterms to bargain for more political packages, whether in the form of grants, contracts, or social services. Putting the fear into Democratic leadership about the extent to which black votes mattered may have resulted in a better benefit exchange for the vote.
But is the political will there?
This type of button-holing may be tough to sell to black voters. There may be the fear that Democrats, whether in the state house or the Congress, may harbor resentment against that type of bold behavior and punish blacks in the process by cutting or eliminating programs. Not a politically cool place to be in.
On the other hand a less cool place to be in is where blacks are incurring the ravages of gentrification. For example, The Baltimore Fishbowl, citing data from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, reported that the city of Baltimore experienced the fifth highest rate of gentrification, falling behind New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia.
Gentrification goes beyond just seeing new white faces in a predominantly black neighborhood. The higher rents and increased property taxes while easily absorbed by new white neighbors may only serve to increase the burden of living experienced by incumbent residents.
In addition to black residents being forced to leave their homes or neighborhoods due to increased rents or property taxes, those who stay in neighborhoods not yet touched by gentrification may be living in deplorable conditions due to a failure of the city to provide adequate services. Reporter turned candidate for Congress, Kimberly Klacik, raised these issues in her reporting on Baltimore and has successfully turned her reporting into a platform for a run against former congressman Kweisi Mfume.
Changing the electoral mindset …
It is time for blacks in Maryland and nationwide to reverse this mindset. Fear of political reprisal from the Democratic elite needs to be replaced by a boldness to demand a redirection of public capital and resources into black communities, including black owned banks and businesses. Holding back the vote during primary season and focusing on down ballot local issues may send Congressional Democrats the message that ignoring the black community by failing to meet its capital needs can be very costly.