30,000 respondents offer a complex picture of race and gender with serious implications for the 2020 election

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Black Lives Matter co-founder and Black Futures Lab’s principal Alicia Garza releases ‘Beyond Kings and Queens: Gender and Politics in the 2019 Black Census,’ an unprecedented study of Black life across the gender spectrum that looks at the lives and experiences of Black cisgender, transgender and gender non-conforming communities all together

by Christopher Collins-McNeil

New York – Today the Black Futures Lab released “Beyond Kings and Queens: Gender and Politics in the 2019 Black Census,” an analysis of more than 30,000 Black people who are usually not represented or are underrepresented in conventional surveys, such as homeless people, incarcerated people, LGBTQ+ people, Black Republicans and conservatives, Black immigrants, and mixed-raced people with a Black parent, among others.

This report takes a closer look at where and how gender affects the lives and perspectives of Black Census respondents. The report finds that all genders contend with racism throughout the economy, the criminal justice system and society at large, but it also reveals the diversity of experience in the Black community across lines of gender. “Beyond Kings and Queens” sheds much needed light on the complex relationship between race, gender and politics.

“Understanding how to reach and move Black voters in 2020 requires a deeper and more inclusive look at how gender impacts our lives and shapes our participation in politics,” said Black Futures Lab Principal Alicia Garza. “This report shows cisgender Black women ways that feminist coalitions could be stronger when the concerns of transgender women are included and prioritized. And it shows cisgender Black men how to show up in solidarity with Black women across the gender spectrum. This is essential reading for politicians who want to earn the support of Black voters and advocates who want to mobilize our communities to the polls in 2020.”

“Beyond Kings and Queens: Gender and Politics in the 2019 Black Census” deconstructs the often monolithic view of the Black community by looking beyond the gender binary to surface undervalued political participation and aspirations. “Beyond Kings and Queens shows that people on the margins of society are at the very center of social change,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. “This understanding can help bridge differences and form new coalitions to build power within Black communities and inform 2020 candidates on how to most sincerely and effectively engage Black communities ahead of the election.”

Many stories told today about Black people’s civic and political engagement miss the full picture. “To build the political power needed for real liberation, we need to appreciate how gender and gender identity shape the daily lived experiences and perspectives of Black people in this country,” said K. Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos. “This report shines a light on how transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary Black people are mobilizing for a better world in the face of dire economic instability and pervasive harassment and violence.

“It illuminates how race and gender intersect in the lives of cis- and transgender Black men and women in the workplace, at the ballot box and in the streets. And it shows the necessity of fully engaging and including Black people of all genders.”

Cisgender women responding to the Black Census describe the highest rates of voter registration and report “always” voting in a variety of elections – from congressional midterms to local races to ballot referenda – more often than any other gender demographic. Although transgender and gender non-conforming non-binary Black Census respondents are somewhat less likely to report voting, they are more civically engaged than cisgender Black Census respondents in key ways outside of electoral politics. Forty-nine percent of transgender and non-conforming non-binary Black Census respondents attended a protest meeting or demonstration in the last year, compared to 31 percent of cisgender women and 25 percent of cisgender men.

“By allowing people to express their gender identities with various options instead of a binary, as is still the case for many surveys, the Black Census was able to capture a nuanced view of how gender identity affects the lived experiences of Black people,” said Socioanalytica Research Political Director and Managing Partner Juhem Navarro-Rivera, PhD.

Key findings

Economic justice:

  • Black Census respondents of all genders describe economic policy issues as among the most serious problems faced by Black communities.
  • All genders are virtually unanimous in saying that low wages that are not enough to sustain a family are a major problem in Black communities (87 percent of cisgender men, 93 percent of cisgender women, 79 percent of transgender men, 81 percent of transgender women and 92 percent of gender non-conforming non-binary respondents).
  • Twenty-nine percent of Black transgender women surveyed report an income less than $15,000 annually, compared to 16 percent of Black Census respondents overall.
  • Sixty-two percent of transgender and gender non-conforming/non-binary Black Census respondents live in a household where someone was unable to pay a monthly bill in the last year.

Discrimination, harassment and violence:

  • Both cis- and transgender Census respondents are more likely to describe personal interactions with the police as being mostly or always negative.
  • One in five transgender women report feeling threatened or harassed every single day.
  • Half of male respondents (both cis- and transgender) report that “people act as if they are afraid of you” at least once a month.
  • Sixty-seven percent of transgender and gender non-conforming non-binary respondents report that politicians do not care about “people like you” at all.
  • Eighty-nine percent of gender non-conforming non-binary respondents agree that police officers not being held accountable for their crimes is a major problem.
  • Sixty percent of men and gender non-conforming non-binary respondents report a negative police encounter before age 18.

Civic engagement:

  • Cisgender women are the most likely to report voting in the 2016 presidential elections (81 percent) compared to 75 percent of cisgender men.
  • Cisgender women are the most likely to talk to family or friends about politics and help with a voter registration drive.
  • Gender non-binary and non-conforming respondents are the most likely to report protesting, with 61 percent attending a demonstration.
  • Forty-three percent of transgender and gender non-conforming non-binary Black Census respondents are also more likely to report belonging to, participating in or volunteering with a social justice organization.
  • Forty-nine percent of transgender, gender non-binary and non-conforming Black Census respondents attended a protest meeting or demonstration in the last year, compared to 31 percent of cisgender women and 25 percent of cisgender men.

Education:

  • Cisgender women responding to the Black Census were significantly more likely to have attained a college degree or further education (46 percent) than cisgender men (33 percent).
  • Cisgender men responding to the Black Census were more likely to have concluded their education with a high school diploma or less (28 percent) than cisgender women (17 percent), which is consistent with broader research.
  • Transgender women report the lowest college completion rate, at 9 percent.
  • Transgender Black Census respondents have significantly lower rates of education: More than half (55 percent) of trans men and women report having no formal education beyond high school, and just 14 percent report completing college.

The Black Futures Lab transforms Black communities into active, interdependent, responsive public partners that change the way power operates at the local, state and national level.

Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by more than 1.4 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

Demos is a dynamic think-and-do tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Through cutting-edge policy research, inspiring litigation and deep relationships with grassroots organizations, Demos champions solutions that will create a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity.

Socioanalítica Research is a bilingual consulting firm helping progressive organizations and businesses with quantitative and qualitative research design, methods and analysis. Socioanalítica Research designs high quality research products that are simple in their execution yet powerful in their content and analysis.

Christopher Collins-McNeil can be reached at christopher@abpartners.co.

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