In a win that many thought was farfetched, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama special election for Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat.
Despite the fact that Moore has been credibly accused of child molestation and sexual misconduct with teenage girls, President Donald Trump (and the Republican National Committee) backed him — and polls up to the very end showed it was going to be a close race.
Even before the race was officially called, exit polling was revealing something clear about the race and gender breakdown of who was voting for Jones and who was voting for Moore.
In numbers that are even worse than the 2016 presidential election, 63% of white women voted for Moore. Just 35% voted for Jones.
Guess who voted for Jones with an overwhelming majority of 98%?
Before the election, there was breathless coverage of Jones’ alleged “African American voter problem.” What many of these pieces failed to mention was the concerted effort in Alabama to suppress votes in Black communities by passing new voter ID laws then closing DMVs in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
Color me shocked that the “problem” was actually with white voters.
In reality, there was an organized, on the ground operation by Black people to register people to vote and take them to polling stations. Black organizations were doing thousands of door knocks for Jones, organizing in schools and in churches.
Twitter was flooded with people saying every iteration of “Trust Black women” and “I wish Black women would hurry up and take over,” and, “THANK YOU, BLACK WOMEN!”
What do I have to say to those people?
These declarations of praise are earnest over corrections at best and pandering at worst.
The fact that Black women stepped up, came out and voted for a progressive candidate (over an accused child molester, no less) should not be surprising to anyone who isn’t willfully ignorant to the socio-economic powers keeping Black women from leadership positions in and out of politics.
Black women, more so than Black men, have been the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting bloc since the 1990s.
This, however, has not stopped the party from enacting policies that disproportionately denigrated Black communities, such as the 1994 crime bill, which filled prisons with thousands of us. We still make 63 cents to a white man’s dollar. Alarming numbers of Black women are dying during childbirth.
We are woefully underrepresented in industries like tech, and there are currently no Black women leading Fortune 500 companies. We receive just 1% of all venture capital funding, although being the most entrepreneurial group in the U.S. We are also earning college degrees at increasing rates — but are still not gaining wealth in the same way whites are.
But, in spite of these inescapable facts, we continue to pull the country off the edge of the cliff.
When the country is getting dangerously close to cutting off its nose to spite its face, Black women are the ones slapping the blade out of its hands.
But as Jordan McDonald so perfectly articulated in an article for Bitch Media, “Black women are supreme, not superhuman.”
“Our continued resilience in the face of adversity is the reason society paints Black women as symbols of saviordom and principled righteousness, a coded expectation of godliness placed upon us in exchange for sacrifice,” McDonald writes.
It is not — and should not — be Black women’s responsibility to stamp out white supremacy and misogyny that is so deeply embedded in our country. Black women should not be expected to come out to vote in historic numbers against a racist and homophobic candidate, while 65% of white women vote for said candidate. These are the same white women that helped put Trump in office.
Black women have been on the frontlines of every social movement in American history, from suffrage to the Civil Rights Movement. Whether that has been properly recognized is a different story.
So, please, don’t look to us to get the country out of every bind, while systematically ignoring the unique and pervasive discrimination against us.
Instead, it’s time to look at why white women (and men) have not been doing the same, but rather getting us into these situations in the first place.
Thanking us is not enough. It’s time to actively address and fight against systematic oppression against us; it’s time to hire us for leadership positions; it’s time to invest in our businesses; it’s time to donate to our campaigns and elect us to office.
Then, once all that is done, yes, you can thank us. Then, step aside and watch us lead.