By Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed. | Guest Blogger AC JosepH Media
Since political newcomer Amy Kennedy shocked South Jersey political pundits with an easy layup shot in the July 7th Democratic party election for congress in the 2nd Congressional District, many political analysts are spouting off theories on the Kenndy’s campaign key to victory against the powerful old guard.
However, the votes for Amy attributed to Black and Latino voters remain marginalized even in news reports surrounding this historic election. I feel, as a civil rights advocate, that in order to elect the first woman to represent the district in the United States House of Representatives, the campaign needs to continue exploring the intersection of racial justice and lack of inclusion from the perspective of these two communities of color.
To her credit, Amy Kennedy’s campaign recognized that South Jersey’s three Congressional Districts are proud to have great diversity; there are many African-Americans and Latinos that live and work in areas of South Jersey.
The current political system may not be representing their particular needs as minorities eclipsed by a large white majority. As a result, they may not get actively involved in the politics. Further, there are often accompanying cultural differences as well, and many feel the vibes of hostility in their interaction with public institutions and private business establishments.
White people looking to get elected must not only understand the needs and wants of Blacks and Latinos, but they must also look to actively engage them in their campaign and respect them. African Americans and Latinos are not sought out for positions in public service because they are often deemed unqualified.
Amy Kennedy signed on as a caring, compassionate partner for systemic change in how African Americans and Latinos are treated and excluded from the decision making process throughout the 2nd Congressional District.
Amy sought out audiences with NAACP branches, meetings with Latino leaders, reached out to progressives, women, and regular democratic members, and LBGTQ individuals and groups. She ignited a fire in these communities that spread across the 2nd Congressional District and secured her win.
In a letter dated January 15, 2020, Amy’s Republican opponent in November, Jeff Van Drew, rationalizing his deflection to Trump’s Republican Party.
He wrote, “Again, I want to be very clear: I have not changed.”
Well, yes you did. You unequivocally embraced Donald Trump’s dismissal and patronizing of African-Americans, Latinos, Women, and other marginalized groups. Van Drew’s letter goes on to read, “It pains me greatly to say this, but they (Democrats) do not represent our values.”
Now, help me out here. I don’t know what values Van Drew is talking about, because the values that guide African-Americans and Latinos have always been a belief in equality for all, civil, human rights, and economic and social justice.
I have no problem in saying that white politicians’ narrative of issues important to African Americans and Latinos is usually within the context of their view of us. In the ensuing election campaign heading into November, we need to change that white privilege dominated narrative and make them more accountable to us, our families, and communities as a whole.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in discussing the views I expose in this wonderful blog site.
Bio: Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas is an award-winning columnist, veteran civil rights activist and former officer with the Gloucester County NAACP. He is the cofounder and retired director of Philadelphia Prison System’s Office of Community Justice and Outreach.
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