How journalist Errin Haines documents the political influence of black women

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Errin Haines is no stranger to uncomfortable conversations about race or the influence of black women in politics.

Its mission is to change the way Americans talk about gender, politics and politics. The award-winning Atlanta writer previously reported for The Associated Press focused on the intersection of race, politics and culture. Today, Haines is the editor of The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom covering politics and focused on women. She envisions a space for underrepresented voices who continue to be marginalized in American politics and political journalism.

While Haines was on her journey as the founder of The 19th, she was telling the stories of other pioneering black women. His highly anticipated 2022 book Twice better will report on the political journey of black women as voters, organizers and candidates from the perspective of the historic achievement of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Below, she explains why she wanted to write a book that would be received by all black women, not just those interested in politics.

Christine Michel Carter: While working on Twice better, you were appointed by Princeton University to teach black women and the 2020 elections. Can you tell me about that experience?

Errin Haines: I was honestly surprised at the level of interest even before the semester started! So many students were interested in the subject and the group of young women I found myself with was so amazing. Everyone brought their lived experience to a safe space that allowed for a solid dialogue that I looked forward to each week.

Carter: How do the responses of Gen Z students compare to those of voters you met during the election campaign?

Haines: Frankly, their optimism and hope for the future was not exactly what I got from the voters I interviewed during the election campaign in terms of their feelings about the direction of the country. They honestly helped shape my take on the election, as I taught this course during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Their insights into campaign debates or events, and the role of race and gender in the election were so refreshing – especially because so many of them would vote for president for the first time in this election.

Carter: Why did you personally think it was the right time to publish a book?

Haines: I don’t think I have chosen the moment; I think the moment has chosen me. The worst-kept secret in journalism is that most of us think we have a book in us that we will write at some point, even though we have no idea what that book is. My subject also found me. After a few years of focusing on the growing political power of black women as organizers, candidates, and voters, then covering Kamala Harris’ candidacy for President and her historic journey to Vice President, I really had felt like I was the right person and that it was the right time to tell this story. Soon we’ll find out, and hopefully readers will agree!

Carter: Apart from politics, have other key societal factors influenced Twice better?

Haines: I think whether you are a political junkie (like me!) Or not, this is a story that will resonate. So many black women I’ve written about have had to make certain choices along the way, both personally and professionally, to be successful. They were the “first” or “unique” (as in the only one in the room) whether in terms of race or gender in their respective fields, and from talking to them I learned that there are also similar experiences. experiences that go with it.

Carter: Which women did you interview? What common themes have emerged for all women, not just women in politics?

Haines: I spoke to organizers like Glynda Carr of Higher Heights, for example, who found herself completely exhausted by the pandemic while working to get black women elected and Melanie Campbell of the Black Women’s Roundtable faced the toll of Covid-19 by herself family while juggling for the right to vote. The common thread running through their conversation is that they are like so many black women who carry on despite personal challenges because they don’t know what else to do and don’t stop to think about what all this can do. to be. affecting them. They are used to being the strong who lead by example and have had to learn the hard way to put personal care first. This is the story of many women, especially women of color, right now, who navigate racism amid today’s challenges in life and who are overwhelmed and yet persevering.

Carter: Black mothers are political parents; we are ambitious and try to change the world for our children. For parenting black mothers amid racial injustice, disproportionate setbacks and a global pandemic, what words of encouragement can you offer them to inspire their political journey?

Haines: My mom was a parental black mom in the midst of these setbacks except a global pandemic. I would say to them: We see you. Your lived experience will always have a home at the 19th. We’re committed to telling your story because you matter. You have always been essential to this company. You have always been the guardians of this democracy and the fabric of our workforce. Without you, I am not a founding mother of this organization or the journalist who is empowered to do her best and highest work.


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