17 Women of Color On How Democratic Presidential Candidates Can Earn Their Vote
As 10 of the Democratic presidential hopefuls prepared to take the stage on June 26 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida, a large crowd gathered at an open air bar for a #SheThePeopleFL debate watch party just a few blocks away. Undeterred by the intense humidity and heat, hundreds of people turned up at the event organized by She the People, a national political organization of women of color, and New Florida Majority, a political organization with a focus on marginalized communities, to hear the candidates introduce themselves to the American people.
Bustle spoke with 17 women of color at the watch party about what they will need to hear from the Democratic candidates to secure their votes. These women differ on the issues they say are top of mind, as well as what they wanted to hear more about from the crowded field of candidates — everything from immigration and mass incarceration to reproductive justice and climate change. While many alluded to the tone and policies of the Trump administration, they say they want to hear more from the candidates than just a rejection of Trump’s policies. It's clear that to win their votes, Democratic candidates need to offer clear and detailed policies in addition to a strong vision for America’s future.
What Nancy Metayer wants from the eventual Democratic nominee is equity. She tells Bustle that to earn her vote, candidates need to make sure all their policies are inclusive.
"People are tired of mediocrity. They’ve played it safe in the past," she says. "One example is having women and people of color in positions of power."
Sylvia Henriquez, the co-director of the All* Above All Action Fund, tells Bustle that candidates must use their platform to change the narrative around abortion care in order to earn her vote.
"We’ve been excited about the momentum that has been building around repealing the Hyde Amendment, and we’re happy to hear their positions currently to lift the Hyde Amendment," she says. "Now, what we’re listening for are their policy, platforms and positions, and how they plan to implement them."
She cites The Each Woman Act in particular, which she explains "would prohibit politicians from interfering with people’s personal decision making by banning private or public insurance programs from covering abortion, and ensures everyone can get the abortion care they need, however much money they have, wherever they live, or how they get their insurance."
"I really want to hear about their Black agenda," Stephanie Cruz tells Bustle of the Democratic candidates. "Especially somewhere like Miami where the desperation is apparent and the need is there. Reparations is a major conversation right now. I’m looking at their economic agendas and their plan to boost the economy. In Miami specifically, housing affordability is a big issue."
Kelin Escobar tells Bustle that candidates' immigration and climate change policies will determine her vote.
"I’m also looking for LGBT rights to be mentioned," she says. "There is still a large amount of the LGBT population that is being detained and discriminated against."
The candidate who earns Krystina Francois' vote will be able to articulate a very clear vision, not just explain how they'll do things differently than President Trump.
"They have to have a position on immigration that legalizes the undocumented folks who are in limbo, a very clear pro-abortion stance, and expanding health care access for the uninsured," she tells Bustle.
For Alejandra Aguirre (pictured at right), the candidate that earns her vote will be "someone that is well-rounded in policy and authentic to their story."
Camilla Duarte & Laura Muñoz
The candidate that will make big changes affecting communities of color and immigrant communities will get Camilla Duarte's (pictured at left) vote.
"Because of the current administration, the immigrant community is under attack. DACA, TPS [Temporary Protected Status]," she tells Bustle. "For me, as a young woman of color, what I want is someone who will have our back."
Laura Muñoz (pictured at right), for her part, is looking for a candidate that inspires hope.
"I run the Florida Immigrant Hotline," she says. "People are scared. The most vulnerable communities are scared. We need to hear hope. This isn’t just a political game. I need to hear concrete promises about what they’re going to do for our immigrant community, for women’s reproductive rights, for racial justice and for income inequality, which are all connected."
Valerie Jean Charles
Valerie Jean Charles wants to hear her future president taking the idea of taxing the rich more seriously.
"There has been such great momentum, such great ground swell," she tells Bustle. "There are multiple pieces in the New York Times from millionaires and billionaires asking to be taxed more. This is important not just for people in the progressive space, but for everyday Americans who aren’t feeling the gains of the economy, whose wages haven’t gone up."
Mariana Peñaloza (pictured at left) says the candidate who earns her vote must prioritize climate change, gentrification, education, and the affordable housing crisis. That candidate, she adds, should understand how all of these pressing issues intersect.
"As a minority woman living in Miami, a Latina living in Miami, it’s important that they understand that all these issues are intertwined," she explains. "As someone that’s living here, I don’t think that these issues are going to be talked about this way."
Claudia Andrade's vote will go to a candidate with "clear, consistent, and left-leaning policies."
"I want to see Medicare for All, Fight for 15, and non-intervention foreign policies," she tells Bustle. "I don’t want to vote for a Democrat who has the same foreign policy as a Republican. I don’t want to go to war in Iran, in Venezuela or Syria."
The candidates' immigration positions are very important when it comes to securing Lily Montalvan's vote.
"I’m going through family separation," she tells Bustle in Spanish. "My husband was detained on Feb. 20 and he was deported on March 21 to Peru. After living here for 30 years. A marriage of 20 years was destroyed by unfair laws. Two U.S. citizen children left without a father."
Marleah Singleton & Maggie Singleton
Marleah Singleton tells Bustle that the candidate who earns her vote will have "decency for humanity."
"I need to hear someone for the people, who is trying to listen to what their communities need...I’d love to see a candidate who would be down for abolishment or lots of our existing systems, including the prison system," she says.
"I’m looking for some of the same stuff," adds Maggie Singleton. "Someone who is in touch with the people, someone who actually listens, who isn’t just going off of what the wealthy want."
A solid plan for criminal justice reform is the key for Democratic candidates to unlock Dulcee Barnes' vote.
"If they are coming to Miami, I need them to know what’s happening here. We have a mass monopoly of detention centers," she tells Bustle. "Amendment 4 [the initiative to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people in Florida that Republican lawmakers passed legislation to curb] — returning citizens still don’t have the right to vote. There’s a disconnect between the communities and the people who are supposed to represent us."
Kellie Tigertail notes that the Trump administration recently approved drilling in the Florida Everglades, where she grew up. Sufficiently addressing this and other climate issues will be crucial to earning her vote, she tells Bustle.
"As an indigenous woman from Florida, I would want to ask specifically what the candidates would do to stop drilling in the Everglades," she says.
The single biggest factor in choosing a candidate for Quincie Doucet is accountability.
"I haven’t heard enough of what policy you will change, what policies you want to reinforce, specificity," she says of the candidates.
"I don’t even think of it as party, because the Democrats don’t even really have a platform," she explains. "So I want to hear what you stand for and I want to hear when you were wrong, what did you do that was wrong and how did you apologize to the people that you wronged."