Why This Doug Jones Ad Targeting Black Voters Is The Wrong Way To Talk About Race

Photo: Craig F. Walker/Getty Images.

There's five days left until the Alabama special election and both campaigns are making a last push to convince voters their candidates is the right choice. On the Republican side, we have Roy Moore's spokeswoman defending him from the child molestation and sexual assault allegations against him with some wild theories. And in the corner of Democrat Doug Jones, his campaign is sending out some questionable flyers addressing minority voters.

The ad is setup much like an internet meme. At the top it reads, "Think if a Black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?" The line is followed by a picture of a Black man looking skeptical.

The ad wasn't well received in Alabama's Black community.

"I feel it was putting you in a position to vote based on race, versus the correct candidate, or a candidate," Veronica Jones, an Alabama resident, told WHNT NEWS 19. She said she didn't think it was the correct way to address a minority community, if that was the intent of the Doug Jones campaign. She added, "Just state the facts, what are you going to do for that target area, and be done."

On social media, people from both Alabama and other parts of the country also criticized the flyer.

It's true that there's a higher bar for people of color (and women, LGBTQ+ people, other minorities) compared to your average white, male politician. It's why former President Barack Obama had to be a Harvard-educated lawyer with more than 10 years of political experience under his belt that appealed to plenty of communities across the U.S. (see also: "the next thing best to Jesus") in order to be elected, while President Donald Trump captured the White House even though he is a businessman with no prior political experience and accused of sexual misconduct that boasted about "grabbing [women] by the pussy" and didn't even win the popular vote.

But the flyer, though it's not boasting a completely false sentiment, did make it seem like Black voters wouldn't get involved in the election unless race was brought up — which is a gross simplification.

Michael Harriot, writing for The Root, explains it best: "Someone, probably a white man, thought that the image would resonate with Black people and motivate them to get out the vote. It’s as if Black people were considering voting for the child molester until some brilliant strategist posited: 'What if he were Black, though?' The flyer is reductive in its oversimplification of the black mind as only caring about Black issues. While it might not be racist, it is certainly racist adjacent."

Refinery29 has reached out to the Doug Jones for Senate campaign for comment. We'll update this story if we hear back.