Posted on March 7, 2022

What the War in Ukraine Could Really Mean for Black Americans

Nola Haynes, The Grio, March 4, 2022


We are in game-changing times; the world is reordering as I type this sentence. But what does this mean domestically, and will the lives of Black people be negatively or positively affected? As my identity as a Black woman intersects with my professional identity as an international relations-focused political scientist in this stark moment, I can tell you that a cycle of impact occurs during major global shifting. What I mean is the domestic instability exhibited on Jan. 6, 2021 triggered global instability.

For example, Russia felt emboldened to invade Ukraine because it viewed the United States as weak, divided and vulnerable. Once Russia invaded Ukraine, global instability exacerbated domestic problems, such as increasing gas prices during a time when we’re still in a pandemic, dealing with rising inflation, increased housing prices and growing homeless populations, all while we’re fighting to preserve voting rights. Not to mention that many military families of color are sending loved ones off to support North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces. So yes, with Black people still reeling from lost wages and jobs during COVID19, parents struggling with childcare, plus increased costs at the grocery store, the financial impact of this war will be felt at the dinner table and the gas pump. In addition to price hikes on gas and wheat, disinformation campaigns will increase and continue to target Black communities on social media.


The goal of disinformation campaigns on social media is to sow doubt and convince Black Americans not to vote. The 2020 presidential campaign was a record-breaking election in terms of Black voter turnout, which was 62.6 percent, according to the Brennan Center. This reality increases the likelihood that Black Americans will continue to get fed disinformation, especially about the war in Ukraine. A key military strategy is to gain public support by winning over hearts and minds. Imagine an opposite scenario where Black American voters decide it was a mistake for President Biden to support Ukraine and rally NATO to their defense. If Black voters buy into that narrative, that record high of 62.6 percent can be gutted. {snip}

The possibility of disinformation campaigns has implications for the upcoming midterms and 2024 presidential election, two elections that will determine if America remains a democracy or inches closer to autocratic, dictatorial rule. Under autocratic rule, which is usually fueled by strong nationalism and ethnocentric views, underrepresented groups are systematically oppressed by policies designed to limit job options, suppress languages and erase cultures. {snip}


{snip} Disinformation campaigns targeting Black Americans and the larger diaspora will continue. The key to surviving disinformation is to read different sources to distinguish between propaganda versus facts. Stay tuned, Black America, and stay informed because we all have a stake in this democracy.