Monday, November 03, 2008

Young, Black, Female, and Evangelical: Why she voted Bush last time and Barack this time

I'm a middle-aged white guy. So let's hear from an Evangelical who's young, black, and voted for George Bush in 2004. Alissa Griffith explains (CBS News) how she and many other young black believers were impressed in 2004 by the double-barreled social issues of same sex marriage and abortion. The result was they voted for George Bush, helping to propel him back into the White House.

Not this time, though. "Four years later, I am still the young, black, evangelical, 'moral conservative' that I was in 2004 - and I support Barack Obama," she writes.

Alissa believes Obama's policies touch on many of the issues which are most important to her, including some not often seen on the radar of white Evangelicalism. Further, she dismisses single-issue voting with some fervor:

A vote for Obama is not a dismissal of morality in favor of social justice. It is an acknowledgement that morality encompasses much more than just abortion and same-sex marriage issues. Judging based on rhetoric throughout this election, Obama has exhibited his competency in social justice issues and McCain is still just trying to figure out why it matters.

Her critique is specific:

Unemployment, a poor economy, an expensive war, fatherless homes, high incarceration rates, poor education and a lack of access to higher education are at the forefront of all voters' minds. The presidential debates exposed John McCain's illiteracy on these issues.

But why are those issues able to trump the abortion issue? Yes, here race does matter:

This is of more consequence to black young evangelicals than the larger evangelical group because these issues disproportionately affect our families and our community.

Alissa's response to Evangelicals who think she's turning her back on the unborn is forthright.

We still think it is important to halt the outrageous number of abortions performed in this country, but we also are acutely aware of the plight of those people who did not have abortions and are struggling to raise their children in the inner cities of this country. We believe in prayer in schools, but disagree with abstinence-only education. We think that welfare is not the key to success, but we understand that some children will not eat without it. We roll our eyes at accusations of racism, but we can see the class differences and know that minorities populate the lower classes of America. We believe that people should pay for their crimes, but we know that capital punishment and longer prison sentencing are the fate of a disproportional amount of black men. We don't believe in handouts, but know that many black people simply can't afford higher education. We believe in morality, but believe the definition is too narrow.

And Alissa... I couldn't agree more.


BigMama said...

Powerful words. Thanks for sharing.

Joyce said...

Excellent. I hadn't read this. Thanks for sharing it here, Jon.