I recently ran across a Facebook post I made responding to one of my dear friends who questioned what she should tell her children in response to Donald Trump winning the presidential election. They knew he was not a nice person and had been excited about witnessing the first female elected President of the United States.
I wrote these words to her: “I’m sorry that you have to tell your children the outcome of this election. The pain in my own heart is palpable. But tell them about the shoulders we stand on. Tell them about the 250 years of slavery we lived through and the additional 100 years of Jim Crow.
Tell them about how we marched and fought for Civil Rights. Tell them how we fought for voting rights, fair housing and equal education. Tell them that we’ve never quit or given up and to hold their heads high and know this is just another fight.
Tell them we have come this far by faith, and we will continue by faith. This is not our shame; and we will hold our heads up high and look all those secret Trump voters in the eye and tell them shame on you!”
The feeling I had after the 2016 presidential election felt like what I remembered my mother and aunts feeling in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. King. Like them, I knew we couldn’t give in to our grief. We needed to organize and mobilize. The Women’s March the day after the inauguration energized and ignited women all around the world. And I was eager to get to work!
I began attending local resistance groups, attended mostly by White women. I was often asked where my Black sisters were. I had to remind those who seemed to be questioning the commitment of Black women, that we’ve been doing this work for a very long time. I reminded them that Black women voted 95 percent for Hillary while 53 percent of White women voted for Trump.
Fast-forward to November 2017, because of the 91 percent vote of Black women, the Virginia Democratic Party flipped 15 house seats and retained the governorship. White women voted 48 percent for the Democratic candidate.
Last December in Alabama, the 98 percent of Black women who voted kept pedophile Roy Moore from winning that state’s senate seat. The democratic vote by White women was a mere 34 percent.
Even during the Civil Rights Movement, Black women were the majority of participates but were mostly invisible. Their leadership roles were miniscule even though they played key roles in planning strategy and doing much of the legwork. Black women coordinated some of the most iconic Civil Rights campaigns.
The Democratic Party, both nationally and locally, also takes for granted its most reliable voting bloc. We are often left on the sidelines in critical discussions and policy making, which disproportionately impacts our community and us.
Today, I salute my Black sisters for their steadfastness, commitment and keep-on-keeping-on attitude. Thank you for “Staying Woke!”