Red2Blue’s texting team has formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group to conduct an equity audit of the team’s work.
The Red2Blue texting team has been texting to voters in key elections since 2017. We have grown to include 24 organizers, 100 expert texters, 2,000 engaged volunteers, 6,500 people on Slack and 8,000 people on our mailing list. We’ve run texting for more than 200 Democratic candidates or organizations in 23 states, and we’ve texted close to 5 million voters.
After the midterms, the team decided to review all of our systems and identify areas for improvement in terms of equity. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group is led by two women of color, one in Alabama and one in New York City, and is now made up of 11 people, the majority of whom identify as POC, LGBTQ, or having a disability.
One of the first things we did was to identify all of the areas that need examination:
- Outreach Materials and Communications
- Recruitment and Communications
- Assessment and Understanding
- Volunteer Networks
- Candidates Infrastructure
We’ve made progress in the following areas:
- Candidate recruitment. We developed a set of outreach criteria and laid out tiers for the people doing outreach. For example, Tier A is defined as:
- People of color or those who identify as
- living with a disability,
- LGBTQ, or
- Muslim, Sikh, or another religion that is
- targeted with acts of violence, hate, and oppression
- underrepresented in government
- (NOTE: This is not to undervalue white, cis-het, abled women and men. It’s only a reflection that we already support them in the majority without making an explicit effort. If we see that changing, we will revisit our tiers.)
- In flippable districts
- Who hold progressive values:
- Candidates who have shown strong allyship with people of color
- Candidates who have shown strong allyship with LGBTQ individuals
- Candidates who have shown strong allyship with people with visible or invisible disabilities
- Candidates who have shown strong allyship with women
- Gun safety candidates
- Pro-reproductive rights candidates
- Pro-immigration candidates
- Candidates who favor criminal justice reforms such as ending cash bail
- Candidate who believe climate change is real and will protect our environment
- Candidates who want to tax the wealthy over candidates who primarily listen to business interests known to obstruct progressive tax legislation (e.g. the Real Estate Board of New York)
- Candidates who favor some form of universal healthcare
- Candidates who have shown strong moral character (e.g. no history of blackface, credible sexual assault accusations, etc.)
Tier B is defined as the same as Tier A, but in a reach district rather than a flip. Tier C is the same as Tier A, but candidates who don’t have one of the above mentioned identities .
We’ve already put this into practice in Virginia and have reached out to all of the Tier A, B, and C candidates who don’t have primaries. For special elections, we essentially take any Democratic candidate running to flip a R-held seat because our mission is to elect Democrats.
- Demographic survey of our volunteers. We realized we need to know who our volunteers are in order to know in what ways we need to improve our diversity. We will soon send an anonymous survey that asks demographic questions, questions about how engaged they are, and questions about how comfortable and included they feel in Red2Blue.
- Partnerships. We’ve been reaching out to organizations across the country who are already supporting candidates with the values we’re looking for and doing similar work. We hope to help them with the work they’re doing (if they have texting needs), align ourselves with the work they’re doing, and get recommendations from them about candidates.
We held an online meeting open to all Red2Blue members led by Tram Nguyen of New Virginia Majority. She talked about their work engaging communities of color, low wealth individuals, new Americans, and young people with the goal of expanding the electorate and winning elections. We hope to benefit from their knowledge of what’s going on in Virginia and support their work.
Other groups we have already talked to or have calls scheduled with are Real Justice PAC, Run For Something, Color PAC Oregon, Organize Texas, Georgia Alliance, Isaiah MN (multi-racial, state-wide, nonpartisan coalition of faith communities fighting for racial and economic justice in Minnesota), and Inland Empire United.
We partnered with Color PAC to run texting for five BIPOC female candidates running in local elections and plan to do more.
This is just a preliminary update. We plan to finish this audit and be ready to report more fully in August.