Now let’s be honest and real. 2020 hasn’t been exactly predictable. I am much too nervous to celebrate the end of Darth Cheeto’s reign as Dictator in Chief of the United States of America. While most indicators for the ballot certifications are optimal, I will not rest at ease until the official counts are in, lawsuits are dismissed, and Trump leaves (or is forcibly removed from) the White House grounds.
This election cycle has been a poignant reminder of the divide and conquer strategy used against Black people, leaving Black Women holding the bag. Women of color have shouldered burdens and been on the receiving end of constant misogyny and racism while being left to fend for themselves without the protection (physical, community, or otherwise) of Black men. While some Black men complain about their voices not being heard and continue to neglect our community, others undermine (either unintentionally or deliberately) the Black culture for the maintenance of their own egos. If it sounds like I am throwing major shade. I am. If you run the receipts, the heavy lifters in academia, politics, and community activism that can be counted on to protect Democracy are atypically black women.
While it isn’t all Black men, a sizable majority aren’t helping, choosing to be neglectful bystanders. I can’t help but to think about Breoanna Taylor being denied justice because Daniel Cameron, the Attorney General of Kentucky, a Trump supporter who didn’t give the grand jury the option of Murder when her killers went to trial. Cameron was another sad reminder of the adage, “…all skin folk ain’t kinfolk.” Don’t get me started on the number of Black men who voted for Trump. According to the 2018 Pew Research Center, 14% of Black men surveyed voted for Trump in 2016. It’s one thing to be poor and white voting against your interest. Black men, however, are the one demographic that is killed (1,000 for every 100,000 people) or imprisoned at an exponentially higher rate than any other demographic. The justification of voting for a candidate who is complicit at best and an active supporter at worst of white supremacists boggles the mind — whether due to disillusion, bruised egos, or self-hatred. Even though the official 2020 demographic count has not been released yet, several news sources state more minority men voted for Trump.
Black women get so much done yet, are underpaid, disrespected, and degraded by everyone to include Black men. Yet when the collective is in distress it’s black women who come through.
In particular, Black women have been stepping it up in the world of politics over the last two decades. Days after Election Day 2020, Georgia — of all states — came in with the clutch and flipped blue — putting Biden on a decisive path to the Presidency once the smoke cleared from the Electoral College. While some may try to attribute this to the perfect storm of voter discontent, I argue that Georgia turning blue is credited to Stacey Abrams — hands down.
While she is the face of the blue wave in Georgia she wasn’t alone. Stacey Abrams isn’t the only Black woman who stepped up and showed out during this election. While she was at the forefront, other Black she-noms like Keisha Lance Bottoms, LaTosha Brown, Nikema Williams, Tamieka Atkins, Helen Butler, and Nse Ufot were in the trenches putting in work. Their hard work and tenacity showed the power of Black and minority voices that are normally suppressed at the ballots in atypical Republican strongholds. The official voting demographics haven’t finished being compiled; however, the initial data indicates black women having the largest voter turnout as compared to other demographics. It was Black Women who saved democracy in this country with an unofficial count of 91% at the polls. A majority of the public recognizes this feat.
If you run the tape of Stacey’s phoenix-like rebirth, it makes for a compelling narrative. In 2018, she ran for governor of Georgia but her win was stolen due to voter suppression. Unlike her political newcomer counterpart Andrew Gillum — who drowned his sorrows with male escorts and drug binges that almost killed him — Stacey Abrams quietly settled in for the long haul. She founded the non profit Fair Fight. Since her loss, she continued to be a viable force in Democratic politics. Chosen ahead of other rising stars in the Democratic Party, she gave a composed and direct response to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address; setting a tone that generated an insurgent movement in Georgia to overcome supression. Abrams successfully aided in the voter registration of over 800,000 people.
Joe Biden and the entire Democratic Party owe a huge debt of gratitude to Stacey Abrams and armies of Black women who carried the vote and flipped Georgia blue. While we celebrate this victory, there is still more work to be done. With Mitch McConnell still holding the Senate Majority Leader position if Republicans maintain their majority, Georgia’s run off election is the difference between Joe Biden making due on his campaign promise and McConnell continuing to line his pockets and blocking every piece of legislation that will help the People instead of big corporations. Mitch McConnell is a special kind of evil who continues to undermine the delicate fabric that is called democracy. He still refuses to work with the House to pass a Stimulus Package to help the American People during a pandemic that’s left over 8 million people infected and over 240,000 dead. While Trump is ignoring his responsibilities as a Lame Duck president by throwing tantrums and spreading lies on Twitter and Facebook, McConnell, the real puppet master of the Republican party, is playing the long game.
Georgia isn’t the first state to flip blue in the deep south. Alabama’s 2018 Senate race flipped when Black Women voted 98% against a known pedophile Roy Moore. In 2019 the Center for American Women in Politics saw an increase in Black Women getting elected to government office. There are more Black Women serving at all levels of government except for the state governor’s position. Women whose children were victims of racist gun violence are channeling that deep pain and getting elected to political positions at the local level. I am a firm believer and confident that the rest of America is in agreement: if you want something significant done, put a Black Woman on it!
There is still so much more that needs to be done. While democracy has been saved thanks to the will of the people, that same energy needs to be expended at all levels of government. As President Obama recently alluded to in his new book, the real work is at the state and local level. The issues with criminal justice reform, police brutality, education and infrastructure is all at the state and local level. Getting people involved in their local politics is going to take some work.
Unlike others who had opportunities stolen from them and got angry or quit, imagine what would happen if someone put their energy into making sure it didn’t happen to the person behind you. That is the impact of what Stacey Abrams and her kin did, not only for their legacy, but for America. Some just open the door; these sisters are holding the door open — not only for people of color but all Americans both in the present and for the future. Much like then President-Elect Obama’s Election Night in 2008 was a transcendental moment for little black boys and girls, Election Night 2020 will resonate similarly as a testament to the tenacity, intellect, and style of black women. That’s the real black girl magic. And I’m here for all of it.