Letter: Democrats disappoint black voters

The Detroit News

Saturday, I went to the Democratic Legacy Dinner.

And to my dismay, while yearning to hear a bold message that included an urban agenda that was capable of bringing hope to African-Americans, the most loyal voters in the Democratic party, it never happened. 

Candidate after candidate talked in generic terms about issues that had little or nothing to do with the problems that African Americans deal with on a day to day basis.

What are those issues? How about quality public education, with competent, motivated and well-paid teachers, in structurally sound and safe schools, unemployment, generational poverty, consistently among the highest in the country, directly related crime, access to affordable health care, lack of business formation and a strategy to reduce the huge wealth gap in the African American community?

Because of these persistent issues, I am tired of hearing what Democrats are doing for the Great Lakes, when too many in Detroit are drowning in a sea of poverty; I am tired of politicians, who claim to represent my community, saying one thing when they’re seeking votes, but doing something else when they are elected to office; and I am tired of hearing Democratic politicians say, I am fighting for you, when the evidence of even a minor scuffle, on behalf of the black folks who need the most help, is nowhere to be seen. 

Like most African-American Democrats, I am looking for an inspiring and hopeful message from our political leaders that’s capable of inspiring and motivating us to get out and vote in large numbers because, based on the honesty, commitment and hard work of the people we elect to political office, there is a real possibility that the quality of our lives will get better in the future.

Am I am asking for too much? As I sat there listening to the leaders of the party give the same speeches I’ve heard for too many years to count, I realized these folks are not talking to me. 

Finally, I am a businessman, a longtime community activist committed to the development of character and mental fitness in our young people through an excellent education, and physical fitness and health through participation in sports.

I am a Democrat who believes in capital formation and the creation of businesses in the black community, as well as a person who cares deeply about the people who want a level playing field so that they can work hard to improve themselves, their families and community. 

In other words, I want to see African-Americans uplifted not only through excellent schools and jobs, but also the creation of wealth. 

As such, my questions to the leaders of the Democratic party are as follows: What is your plan to develop public policies that ensure an excellent education for black students in Detroit who have suffered from numerous state takeovers, lack of support for teachers, and a decaying public school infrastructure?

What is your plan to deal with the generational poverty and destructive school-to-prison pipeline that affects mostly African Americans? And what can you do to identify and help aspiring black entrepreneurs get access to capital so that they can create jobs for themselves and their community?

Lastly, in a time of intense crisis in American political life, how can I get you, as leaders of the Democratic Party, to stop talking at me, instead of talking to me? 

Again, am I, an African-American businessman, community activist, and loyal Democrat, asking for too much?

Keith D. Williams

Former 6th District Commissioner and Vice-Chairman of the Wayne County Commission

Chairman and CEO

Michigan Democratic Black Caucus

Former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Black Caucus Jamie Woods, right, listens as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Black Caucus Reception, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. In Iowa _ that’s right _ black Democrats are more energized than they’ve been since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and are poised to make a mark on the 2020 race. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)