Do Our Issues Matter to Clinton and Trump? 7 Black Women Weigh in on the First Presidential Debate

"I want our next president to address police, community, and race relations because as it stands now, there’s a very big possibility that it could get worse."
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Publish date:
September 28, 2016
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HIllary Clinton, 2016 Election, Donald Trump, Black Issues

For ESSENCE readers—surveyed in 2015 for our inaugural Power of the Sister Vote poll, conducted jointly with the Black Women’s Roundtable—there’s keen interest in a presidential candidate who will take on the issues most important to us.

A new survey finds that affordable health care, criminal justice reform, the wage gap and college affordability are at the top of this year’s list. But did the candidates speak to those issues during Monday night's intense debate?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went toe-to-toe as host Lester Holt fielded questions ranging from the economy to race and gun control. We caught up with a few Black women voters to see what they thought about the debate and discuss what issues matter most to our communities.

Take a look:

Sophia A. NelsonAge: 40sResides: Loudoun County, Virginia (key battleground state)Occupation: Attorney turned author/journalist

What issues you are most interested in this election: "Economy, national security and race relations."Who do you plan to vote for: "Hillary Clinton, and I am a lifelong Republican."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: "Mrs. Clinton hands down."Did any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump or Clinton: "Donald Trump talking about 'stop and frisk' was his most telling statement, for her I think she had her best line of the night when she said, 'At least I have a plan on Isis.'" Hopes for the future of Black community: "Donald Trump is George Wallace meets Dick Nixon 1968 redux--Law & Order. Hillary gets it--she knows Black people, Black issues, Black community needs. She has worked with our community her entire life. Trump wants police to stop and frisk us and it is an unconstitutional policy. That says all we need to know."

Dannielle BrownAge: 22Resides: Baltimore, MarylandOccupation: Graduate Student (Public Health) at Johns Hopkins UniversityIssues you are most interested in this election: "Race relations and criminal justice reform."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: "From a non-biased perspective, Hillary Clinton provided what she could in terms of her platform. Donald Trump answered every question about what others were doing wrong, not how he could better our country."Did any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from HC or DT: "The race issue is huge to me. I took part in the protests when Freddie Gray died in police custody. I want our next president to address police, community, and race relations because as it stands now, there’s a very big possibility that it could get worse. I’m also concerned about the criminal justice system and how so many young African-Americans are being incarcerated, sometimes for minor crimes. There’s a financial cost and an exponential cost to the nation."Hopes for the future of Black community: "This election is not just about two parties, or even any particular party, it’s a race for humanity. We need to worry about building relationships among people and nations and not fear each other."

Ellisa BrownAge: 19Home State: Dallas, TexasResides: Baltimore, MarylandOccupation: College Student (Sophomore) at Johns Hopkins UniversityIssues you are most interested in this election: "International affairs, race relations."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: Hillary ClintonDid any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump or Clinton: "I’m a Political Science major so I tried to be open-minded going into this debate. I was disappointed that Donald Trump didn’t have numbers, facts or plans about how he plans to 'make America great again.' I almost wish he had. It was like, `Please turn into a serious candidate!’ I was really proud of Hillary Clinton; when Donald Trump went on a tangent attacking other countries, she spoke about how that can affect our standing in the world in the world in very important ways. I’m [deeply concerned] about how other nations perceive our country."

Natalia CooperAge: 19Home state: Delray Beach, Florida (key battle ground state)Resides: Washington, D.C.Occupation: College student (Sophomore) Howard UniversityIssues you are most interested in this election: "Race relations, gun control, international affairs."Who you plan to vote for: Hillary ClintonOverall reaction on who "won" the debate: Hillary ClintonDid any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump or Clinton: "I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter and believe she did a good job. I thought that Donald Trump would be more prepared. He didn’t answer any of the questions with much substance. There seemed to be no logical progression to his answers."Hopes for the future of Black community and nation: "As a Black Millennial, Donald Trump is not who I want to represent me in the White House for the next four or eight years. I don’t think his language about 'stop and frisk,' the NRA and guns, or any other policy proposals will benefit Black families. I’m doubtful that he won over any undecided Black voters or viewers." Naomi LongAge: 37Resides: Houston, TexasOccupation: Teacher at a nonprofitIssues you are most interested in this election: "Race relations, economy."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: "Hillary Clinton. It was wonderful to watch with about 50-60 of my fellow Houstonians as we sighed, laughed, hemmed and hawed."Did any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump or Clinton: "We need Hillary Clinton. I’m terrified of Donald Trump—what he says and how loosely he states things as facts that are not true. But I see him as a symbol. We have a lot of work to do in terms of outreach to the people who support him, and organizing to get new candidates to run."Hopes for the future of Black community and nation: "I’m from a family of seven siblings, my mother has worked as a housekeeper. I was the first generation to attend college. I have family members who are precariously middle class, others who are struggling. I want a country that lives up to its promises. I want representation that looks like the make-up of the people who live here now. I want a country where me and my loved ones feel safe, where we’re not afraid of police, or being punished or marginalized because of our skin color or values. Where we feel free." Pernessa Seele, Ph.D.Age: 61Home state: Lincolnville, South CarolinaResides: Richmond, VA.Occupation: Founder/CEO of The Balm in Gilead, Inc., a nonprofit in America and Africa that addresses health disparitiesIssues you are most interested in this election: "Race relations, global security, health care."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: "Hillary Clinton did exceptionally well. I was eager to finally hear what Donald Trump would do, but I don’t know if he answered any questions. There was so much mudslinging, which was frustrating." Did any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump and Clinton: "Donald Trump seems to find nothing good about America. If it’s so bad, then why does he want to be President?"Hopes for the future of Black community and nation: "I was happy that the issue of race relations came up, because we are a multi-cultural nation. I don’t think I can recall a debate in which African Americans were spoken of so directly, both good and bad. I’m from a small Southern town founded by Black people shortly after the Civil War. We took good care of each other. I wish that for everyone in America." Allyson CarpenterAge: 20Home state: Cleveland, OhioResides: Washington, D.C.Occupation: Student (Senior) at Howard University. President, Howard Student Govt. Assoc. Issues you are most interested in this election: "Race relations, college affordability, national security, mass incarceration."Overall reaction on who "won" the debate: "Hillary Clinton handled herself with incredible grace and poise. She had a great command of the facts and showed her ability to actually be engaging. I was impressed that Donald Trump showed restraint." Did any particular comments stand out both positive and/or negative from Trump or Clinton: "On the issue of National Security, one candidate [Hillary] is trying to build relationships with our allies and the world, while another [Trump] is trying to build a relationship with Putin and Russia who may be engaged in cyber-warfare against our country. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton’s emails, she has shown great discretion and negotiated America’s affairs with intelligence."Hopes for the future of Black community and nation: "I think they both did a poor job talking about race and race relations. Hillary Clinton was not bold; she didn’t take a firm stance. It’s disappointing that Donald Trump has normalized bigotry. And neither one is very connected with Millennials."

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The post originally appeared on essence.com: Do Our Issues Matter To Clinton And Trump? 7 Black Women Weigh In On The First Presidential Debate; Donna OwensOther stories from Essence you might be into: