Angela Walker, Green Party VP nominee, on why she's a socialist
"Those of us who are simply exhausted with the unresponsiveness of both major parties have sought out more receptive political parties to support."
Editor’s Note: According to results of the 6th annual Power of the Sister Vote poll, presented by Black Women’s Roundtable and ESSENCE, Black women’s confidence in the Democratic Party has fallen slightly in 2020—71% vs 73% in 2019 and 2018. Black women (80%) also overwhelmingly gave Trump a failing grade. Below, Angela Walker, vice presidential nominee for Green Party of the United States, explains why she believes neither major party centers the needs and concerns of Black people.
By Angela Walker
October 27, 2020
I stand in a lot of intersections. I am a Black, queer woman. I am a dump truck driver by profession. I am a parent and grandparent. I am a Socialist. I’ve been a community and labor organizer and activist. And in this year that is unprecedented in so many ways, I am the vice presidential nominee for the Green Party of the United States and the Socialist Party of the USA.
I am running because the needs of cash-poor and working-class people are not being addressed in any substantive way by the two dominant parties in this country. I am running because climate change is very real, and requires immediate and urgent action. I am running because too many Black communities are dealing with dire health disparities, including higher rates of Black maternal and infant mortality, that are being ignored by the power structure.
I am running because we need deep, systemic change, and that change will not come from either of the parties of the duopoly.
I am the vice presidential nominee for the Green Party of the United States and the Socialist Party of the USA.
The Green Party is the only political party that is explicitly calling for an ecosocialist system to replace the exploitative capitalist system in this country. We are the creators of Medicare for All, a community-controlled national health service. We’re the only party calling for an end to the nuclear arms race that threatens humanity’s right to even exist. We are championing an Economic Bill of Rights to ensure that all working-class and cash-poor folks in this country have access to the things they need to live with dignity. We’re the only ones with policies ready to support life on this planet, and the planet herself. Because this platform specifically addresses the needs of ordinary people like myself, and works within ecological limits, this platform is intensely personal for me. I need these policies. All of the people I know and love need these policies.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a working-class Black family, learning early that although money is necessary to live in this society, it is less important than integrity, cooperation, and dignity. I grew up in a house where my family members traditionally voted Democrat, even with their disillusionment with the party itself and the political system in this country in general. My family talked politics often, and there was a focus on racial issues. I was taught very early to be proud of my being Black, to be proud of our history as a people, and to know that our history did not begin on these shores.
I became a socialist in my teens, and being taught Black Liberation philosophies definitely shaped that. Direct community-level control of the entities that serve us—banks, public schools, hospitals, public housing and transportation, workplaces—those are demands that come from organizations that embrace Black Liberation. Black self-determination must be the core of any policy that purports to address the needs of our communities, I believed then and believe now. For me, socialism means true democracy: everyone in a community has ownership of and a vote in how the entities in their communities serve them. It means that available resources are distributed to ensure that everyone is provided for, no one goes without. It’s equality. It’s justice.
I learned early that although money is necessary to live in this society, it is less important than integrity, cooperation, and dignity.
The first time I really got involved in a campaign around electoral politics was the mobilization in 2000 in Florida, where thousands of people went to the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee to protest the state’s refusal to count our ballots. To have Al Gore concede the election when so many, including myself, were fighting to have our vote matter, made me start questioning the Democratic Party and the two-party system in general. There were so many blatant discrepancies that happened, and it seemed no one but the voters themselves could see them. This is part of why I am excited to see so many Black people, from everyday folks like my aunt to celebrities, questioning the dominance of the Democrat and Republican parties in electoral politics, and demanding to know why choices outside of that duopoly are being suppressed. I think that the Democratic Party has taken the support of Black people for granted for far too long, and many of us have grown tired of their sense of entitlement to our vote. Those of us who are simply exhausted with the unresponsiveness of the both parties have sought out more receptive political parties to support.
I am running as a Green Party candidate because the two major parties don’t represent or fight for the issues that are critical to Black communities. Unlike Trump and Biden, Howie and I support the demands to not only defund the police, but we also ask who controls the police, who do they work for? Simply defunding will not stop the police killings of unarmed Black people or the racism that pervades all our institutions. We need community control of the police to transform policing so that it serves and protects those who are now oppressed instead of the property and privileges of powerful elites. We need the ability to oversee and rid police departments of racist and sadistic officers.
Ending the war on drugs will address the huge issue of mass incarceration in this country, and seek ways to repair the harm done to Black and other marginalized communities over the decades. Reparations for African Americans is part of our platform because the exploitation of Black labor and devaluation of Black life in this country persists. Full funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities is also in our platform, to ensure these necessary institutions can keep doing the work they do.
The Ecosocialist Green New Deal, which includes the Economic Bill of Rights and Medicare for All, will absolutely improve the material conditions of Black working-class and cash-poor people by offering a federal jobs guarantee, a living wage for all work, and a guaranteed income above poverty for all who are unable to work.
Who controls the police, who do they work for?
I think that it is important for people to know that the Left in the United States has a long and very proud history of running Black women for vice president. The groundwork for the work I am doing in this campaign was laid by brave, strong women who understood that what our people need will not come through a power structure that tosses us topical reforms without addressing the systemic issues that impact us so completely. They understood that the capitalist system of this country must be overhauled if Black people and other marginalized communities are to receive the benefits of citizenship that they are due. I believe that a just way of living, one that honors this beautiful planet and all of the life on it, is definitely possible.
And more than possible, it’s imperative.