Obama “Diversifies” Young Dems Photo

A photo taken to mark the ascension of a “Young Democrats” leader has kicked up some racial blowback.

The photo, posted Wednesday on social media (and since removed) by an outgoing member of the Connecticut Young Democrats, was taken at a meeting to elect a new chapter president. It showed members of the leadership present at the time. All the people pictured were white.

Except one: ex-President Barack Obama.

Obama wasn’t there in person. And he’s not a member of the Young Dems executive board. Rather, the group posed with a life-sized cardboard cutout.

Before the photo was taken down, it made swift rounds among political leaders of color.

Markeshia Ricks Photo“Everybody has been texting it to me all morning,” said state NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile.

He called the posting of the photo a “slap in the face” indicative of “clear racism going on in the Democratic Party.”

“It looks like the only black they can find is a cardboard Obama. That’s the perception of it. The disingenuous part is that during the eleciton cycle, they were at all of our churches. They were putting up signs throughout our community. All of our organizations.They can find us during eleciton season. As soon as election season is over, they can’t find us,” Esdaile said.

During the election season, Esdaile and others complained about what they called the rigging of a party convention to prevent Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes, who is African-American, from winning the support of a party convention. (She later won a primary and then the general election.) The failure to name a person of color to the gubernatorial-lieutenant governor ticket also provoked criticism.

“Ninety-four percent of the black community voted for [Gov.-Elect] Ned Lamont in the last election cycle. Mid-70 percent of Latinos voted for him. Mid-40 percent of whites voted for Ned Lamont,” Esdaile said. “We give so much to the Democratic Party. Our return on investment is despicable. The Democratic Party has to do better in the state of Connecticut.

Only In BridgeportConstance Vickers, who was elected as the Connecticut Young Democrats’ new president at Wednesday night’s meeting at state Democratic Party headquarters in Hartford, called the affair an “embarrassing” “misunderstanding.” It was a special meeting called to elect a new board president because the previous president, Kim Glassman, had resigned. (She had turned 36, aging out of the role.)

Present and past board members who were still around after the meeting posed for the photo, Vickers said. It turns out that four of the board’s nine members are people of color, she said, but they happened not to be around at the time.

“The cardboard cutout — that was an absolute mistake,” Said Vickers, a 28-year-old fundraiser for nonprofit organizations. “We have a cutout of Obama and Bernie [Sanders] that we use at a lot of events. We should not have used that photo. It was embarrassing for me and for the board.”

She said the organization had not distributed the photo; Glassman had put it on her personal Facebook page.

The Young Democrats will choose other new board members in April. The group plans to work with groups like the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus to ensure it has diverse pool of candidates, Vickers said.

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posted by: New Haven Nuisance on November 29, 2018  6:04pm

For anyone still interested after reading the gross, glib, mischaracterizing headline, here is who was in the room.

posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on November 30, 2018  2:27pm

Yes, how dare the Young Democrats pose with a cut out of the most recent Democratic President?! It’s almost like they admire him or something!
There’s enough real problems in the world without inventing things to be outraged about. Scott X and the NAACP aren’t doing themselves any favors by crying wolf, it makes it hard to take anything they say seriously when this is such obvious BS. 4 out of 9 board members are POC?! That’s 44% in a state whose minority population is somewhere around 20%.

posted by: RatashaSmith on November 30, 2018  4:14pm

President Esadile’s attempt to use our organization as his soapbox to stand on to push forward his personal agenda is disheartening. To be such a prolific leader in our community, I am saddened to find out that he has no interest in facts or helping us diversify our organization, which I thought he was seemingly concerned with. After his comments in various media outlets, it is apparent he is more concerned with hearing himself speak than progress, as it regards to this particular matter. President Esdaile is seemingly too comfortable in his position at a time when a new wave of progressive, young leadership is ready to take the mantle by storm and should be more careful in the future to not to make such blanket statements without regard to facts. I will definitely be taking this issue up with his superiors.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on December 3, 2018  5:24am

Esdaile: “We give so much to the Democratic Party. Our return on investment is despicable.” Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
I wonder when black voters finally are going to figure out that they’re being used. On Airforce One, hardcore southern segregationist and former senator, then- Pres. Lyndon Johnson, when asked by an unnamed governor why he supported the War on Poverty program, Johnson purportedly replied “I’ll have them n_____s voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” In 1966 the black poverty rate was 31.1%; in 2017 it was 22.7%. That seems like a rather pathetic payback for 50 years of blacks’ loyalty to The Party.
But maybe Johnson was right: it will take “voting Democratic for the next two hundred years” to see substantial improvement—or for blacks finally to realize that they’re merely pawns in a rigged 2-party system that primarily rewards politicians.