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Thursday, May 30, 2024

I’m Just Sayin’: Listening to Black people

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Black Indianapolis public opinion matters.

My sometimes political sparring partner, Abdul Hakim Shabazz of Indy Politics, recently conducted some public opinion polling. 

IndyPolitics polls predicted the spread for the Indianapolis mayoral election last fall as well as Sen. Michael Braun’s win over Joe Donnelly. He partnered with Change Research who also predicted that now Mayor Lori Lightfoot would win the Chicago mayoral race.  

While we disagree politically, data is always interesting especially when you can get a sense of where Black people are in the COVID-19 era.

The IndyPolitics/Change Research poll was conducted April 10-13 and was a statewide poll of 1,021 Hoosier likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.1%. 

Black Hoosiers make up 9.8% of Indiana and the Black respondents made up 9% of the respondents. 

As you might expect Joe Biden is the Black community’s candidate with 78% of poll respondents suggesting they would vote for him if the election were held today. Biden’s favorability is around a healthy 76%. 

Black people polled weren’t really looking at a third-party option either, with only 4% of Black Hoosiers considering voting for another candidate. 

Vice President Mike Pence was viewed unfavorably by Black Hoosiers with an unfavorable rating of 69%. Only the president had higher unfavorability at 88 — no surprises there.  

Numbers surrounding the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, Dr. Woody Myers, were alarming. 

Myers may be the first Black man to become the Democratic Party nominee for governor in Indiana later next month. He made national news in the 1980s as Indiana’s Health Commissioner by helping the country understanding HIV/AIDS. 

Black people are supporting Myers at 48% but there are a lot of Black undecided voters in the gubernatorial race. Myers will need to get out in the community to strengthen his name ID. 

I’ve been following his campaign. He’s called for aggressive response to COVID-19 in part because he anticipated what we already knew — Black people would be hit hard by the virus. 

A slim majority of Black Indianapolis believe their city or neighborhood is going in the wrong direction but that was well inside the margin of error. But both city-county government and schools received high favorability marks from Black Indianapolis, 71%/13% and 74%/15% respectively.  

Black Hoosiers across the state are definitely concerned about COVID-19 and those polled are taking it seriously. 

Black Hoosiers were more concerned about dying from COVID-19 than the general population, 67% versus 90%. 

We also were more concerned about the possibility that we would know someone who contracted the disease 89% versus 75% for the general population. 

Black Hoosiers are concerned about the possibility of other people dying around them and more so than the general population. 

When asked “How serious are your concerns about someone you know dying from COVID-19?” 90% of Black Hoosiers expressed serious concern about this prospect versus 74% of the general population. 

Black Hoosiers were more supportive of stay-at-home orders in the poll with 81% of the general population expressing support versus 91% of Black Hoosiers. 

When it came to school closings, 91% of Black Hoosiers supported the policy versus 88% of the general population. 

In this poll, 90% of Black Hoosiers supported policies that prohibit foreclosures and eviction proceedings. In addition, 77% of Black respondents were more likely to support voting by mail. 

There also seemed to be support for remote learning and even virtual schools due to COVID-19. 

Black Hoosiers opinions matter. 

What I’m hearing …

Dr. Virginia Caine and Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestall have done a masterful job of proactively protecting the Marion County jail population, the state’s prisons seem to be losing control of COVID-19 in some of their facilities. 

Indiana Department of Corrections reported last week that 221 inmates and 83 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Westville Correctional Facility reported 123 positive infections and one death related to COVID 19. Plainfield has reported 47 cases and two deaths at its facility. 

While the majority of the 21 IDOC facilities have not reported any positive COVID-19 infections among the prison population or staff, it seems like it is only a matter of time. 

Locally, Rev. Mmoja Ajabu and the Economic Freedom Fighters of Indiana have been advocating on this issue as have Faith in Indiana and the ACLU of Indiana.  

While again, Black Hoosiers make up only 9.8% of the state, Black people represent 32.3% of the over 27,000 inmates in adult correctional facilities and 33.3% of the 350 juveniles in facilities under IDOC. 

When someone pays their debt to society that should be it. IDOC has a responsibility to care for future returning citizens serving time. 

Finally, DuJuan McCoy and IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson showed us what happens when a community-minded owner of a television station gets together with a superintendent fighting for her kids. 

Locally, an unprecedented partnership between IPS and MyIndy-TV 23 will allow IPS students in K-8 graders to see broadcasts of academic lessons. 

This collaboration is a beautiful example of powerful Black folks using their power to do powerful things.

See you next week …

Marshawn Wolley is a lecturer, commentator, business owner and civic entrepreneur. Contact him at marshawnwolley@gmail.com.

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