Report demands recognition of black women's issues in 'War on Women' debate, and more political power

Leaders in the debate coined the "War on Women" have excluded the voices and interests of black women, according to a new report by Higher Heights for America.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Leaders in the debate coined the “War on Women” have excluded the voices and interests of black women, according to a new report by Higher Heights for America. The organization released its Black Women’s Response to the War on Women in late October to highlight their absence as this election cycle has raised tensions between the right and left. Issues ranging from reproductive health to voting rights have been hotly contested — issues that the group say impact black women most of all.

Yet, the grass roots political organization focused on raising the political profile of black women believes they have been systematically ignored as conservative policies have come under scrutiny by feminists. Despite the fact that black women are harmed more than any segment by the health, economic and other proposals threatening the rights of women, few black female voices are at the table when decisions are hashed out — despite the great social power of this group.

“Black women represented over 68% of the [African-American] electorate in the 2008 election and in part helped to elect President Obama,” the report states. In addition, “As it relates to Black women’s impact on the economy, their spending power is estimated at over $565 billion.”

Still, African-American women lag behind white women in the areas of health, earnings, net worth and more. Essentially, every category deemed a determining factor of social success being contested in the War on Women finds black women falling behind.

“Black women represent a major political constituency, consumer base, and volunteer base,” relates the authors of Black Women’s Response to the War on Women. “Yet, these women have largely been left out of debates about health and equal access, relative to the role they play in American society. The result is that the impact of the ‘War on Women’ is exponentially greater on Black women.”

To alleviate this, Higher Heights for America seeks to insert the particular needs of black women into the War on Women contentions and increase the participation of black women in politics, empowering this group to improve its circumstances. The election cycle might be over tonight, but hopefully, for this group, the current climate will kindle discussions that bring the needs of black women to light.

“The ‘War on Women’ is particularly harmful to Black women in this country,” Kimberly Peeler-Allen, co-founder of Higher Heights for America said in a release on the organization’s web site. “The 2012 election cycle has highlighted stark contrasts, particularly as it relates to values.  These contrasts emphasize the need for Black women to increase their power and participation in politics; we hope this report will spark that conversation.”

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.