By all appearances, Black women seem to have become more and more politically active over the past few years, so why in 2016 have there been no Black women governors? And why is there such a small number of statewide officeholders nationwide?
“We get everyone else elected but ourselves,” former State Senator Nina Turner who ran unsuccessfully for Sec. of State in 2014 told public media site WOUB.
Black women do hold office on the state and federal legislative levels, but “the numbers don’t translate to statewide executive offices,” according to Dr. Kira Sanbonmatsu, senior scholar at the Center for American for American Women in Politics. In fact, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, there are merely two Black women holding statewide elective executive offices out of the 312 positions.
Turner says this gulf exists for several reasons. One being, “legislative districts are usually more minority based than statewide populations – therefore, making it easier to win in a select district.” On top of that, Black female politicians have fewer campaign resources. And in the current political landscape, with Republicans making more inroads in controlling statehouses, Black women, who tend to be Democrats, are locked out. Plus we can’t forget about racial and gender stereotypes that continue to work against Black female candidates. “Often, negative stereotypes are used against African American women as being ineffective and just plain angry,” reported WOUB. As Sen. Turner pointed out, passion for equality issues are often misconstrued as being just an “angry Black woman,” says Sen. Turner. And no one wants to elect an “angry Black woman.”