The Pew Research Center indicates that Black voters may play a vital role in the 2024 election results. With this understanding in mind, Republicans and Democrats have engaged in different outreach efforts to entice Black voters. For both parties, these efforts have included courting different Black celebrities and capitalizing on their endorsements.

Several rappers including Kodak Black, Sexyy Red, and Kanye West have publicly professed their support for Trump. Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson endorsed Trump for the 2016 presidential election and his friendship with Trump is now being capitalized on to garner attention during the current election cycle. Despite Trump’s history of racial bias, which includes disparaging remarks about the Central Park Five, Mexican immigrants, Native Americans, women, and Muslims, as well as a housing discrimination case, voters are expected to ignore all of this if their favorite Black celebrity is supporting Trump.

The Biden administration has also leaned on the power and influence of the Black celebrity to secure Black votes. Recently, Vice President Kamala Harris teamed up with the star of “Abbott Elementary,” Sheryl Lee Ralph to discuss a wide range of issues. Harris also met with Migos rapper Quavo to discuss gun violence. In March 2024, rapper Fat Joe joined Harris for a discussion about marijuana convictions. It’s unclear why the administration would invite the Grammy-nominated rapper to join a conversation about the decriminalization of marijuana instead of inviting lawyers, grassroots organizers, educators, and activists whose work centers on cannabis advocacy and justice. It was also reported that Fat Joe along with rapper E-40 were joining President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in a post-debate rally in North Carolina.

In a LinkedIn post that asked Black U.S. voters what issues matter most to them this election cycle, responses ranged from things like student loan debt forgiveness, concerns about the economy, reparations, anti-black discrimination, employment opportunities, anti-DEI legislation, affordable housing, and healthcare access, to the war in Gaza and the aid being provided to Israel. Many of the concerns shared by Black LinkedIn users in the aforementioned post mirror the recent data collected by the Pew Research Center on Black American policy priorities. Their research indicates that the most important priorities to Black voters include education, the economy, social security, healthcare, poverty-related problems, crime, and issues surrounding race, respectively.

It is important to remember the words of civil rights leader Malcolm X, who expressed frustration about how Black celebrities are propped up as leaders and mouthpieces of the Black community. “Show me in the white community where a comedian is a white leader…show me in the white community where a singer is a white leader…or a dancer or a trumpet player is a white leader. These aren’t leaders…these are puppets and clowns…and have been made celebrities and usually say exactly what they know that the white man wants to hear.” In 2024, using Black celebrities as a way to attract Black voters has become a futile effort. Data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that in 2022, the median wealth in Black households was approximately $44,890—much less than other racial and ethnic groups. A person who is rich and famous cannot and does not speak for the average American, much less the average Black person in America.

Money provides a powerful buffer against many of the issues that plague society—it can provide greater access to healthcare, shield an individual against the harshest effects of climate change, and improve the overall quality of life. Rather than rushing to recruit Black celebrities, who are so far removed from the issues impacting the average Black person, politicians must focus on speaking directly with individuals on the margins; those who experience the most severe forms of harm and marginalization within society. Now is not the time to underestimate Black voters and what is important to them—they are not fooled by the flashy or charmed by celebrity. Black voters want to see their specific issues being addressed. The candidate who makes these issues a priority will be able to secure the Black vote in 2024.

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