When David Benoit graduated in the middle of a global pandemic, the future was uncertain. He was quarantining in Boston with his family, applying for jobs, and applying to be a Peace Corps volunteer. While isolated, watching the news and checking social media, seeing the constant police brutality took a toll on him. “You can only watch so much on television. You can only go on social media and see so much pain, hurt, and violence. That’s all I was seeing and it really affected me,” he said.
Luckily, after receiving several calls, Benoit settled on a job. On July 1, he began working for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, working particularly with the Joe Biden campaign as a field organizer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The job helped him get through the hard times. “To be able to get this job, get online, have these conversations with people I’ve never met before, and might never meet, has really helped,” Benoit said. “I don’t think people believe one conversation is powerful, but we all have networks. Having one conversation with a person, and sort of changing their mind about all these things they might not hear about on a daily basis, and then bringing that information to their family members, their friends, their communities, is powerful.”
All of his work was virtual through October. Now it’s a mixture of virtual and in-person. “I’m working really hard to make sure that we’re not just telling folks to vote, but educating them,” Benoit said. As of this year, mail-in voters in Pennsylvania had to follow all protocols or their vote wouldn’t count. Benoit has worked more than 60 hours a week for the campaign.
While those work hours don’t sound ideal, Benoit has bigger plans. Benoit would like to serve the African American community with a black serving, organization. “I would really like to serve my community, especially the queer community, that is more direct to my identity,” he said. Bucks County has a predominantly white population, and his team within the campaign is also predominately white, and it’s taught him a lot.
“What I’m finding out is that I’m teaching them about these issues. And these white republicans, liberals, and democrats, they themselves don’t really know how to feel about these social issues, like why black lives matter is black lives matter, and why so many people are angry,” Benoit said. He doesn’t mind being a teacher, but is well aware that it’s not an African American’s job to teach others about social issues, although he chooses to. These conversations have shaped the way Benoit sees his future. Now that the election season has come to an end, he is starting to look at local black organizations, but eventually would love to work with national organizations like the NAACP or the Black Caucus in Washington D.C. “In the future, I have always been a lover of policy of legislation, and would love to work to build policy, do research, and build legislation that does help people of color, the black community, and queer folk, specifically,” he said.