It seemed as if all of America voted in Alabama’s recent special U.S. Senate election. Everyone had something to say about the decades-old Republican seat up for grabs. But in true cinematic fashion, Democrats pulled off a miracle and gained another seat in Washington.
We may never identify the magic that led to Democrat, Doug Jones, beating ultra-Conservative, Roy Moore, in an equally conservative state. One thing is for sure—Black people unexpectedly showed up and showed out in a way only we understand. If you are a Democrat in a contest against hate, we’re here for you.
And Black women?
When America is against the ropes—with one hand lifted in praise and the other prepared for battle—time after time, Black women have carried this nation on our backs using our vote to restore America’s promise. Alabama’s election night 2017 was no different.
Sadly, for Black women, America’s promise of equality, justice, and freedom for all is, at best, false advertising and, at worst, soul-crushing betrayal. Since the birth of this nation, Black women have nursed and nurtured the soil and soul of this land. For this country, we have fought and died, marched and entertained, built and reconstructed, all without condition and with love and forgiveness.
As I think about our heroics throughout the generations, I declare that I am “Fannie Lou Hamer sick and tired” of the promise prostituted to secure our vote and then ripped from our fingertips post-election.
But not all of the blame falls on the shoulders of the politician or the party. No, voters too often believe their voice ends at the ballot. I’m here to tell you – hell to the naw! Casting our vote is only the beginning.
We can’t afford to do what we’ve always done by giving away our vote and our trust. Because how far has that taken us? Let’s see: Black women are highly educated, yet earn significantly less than men of any race and white and Asian women. No matter where we live in this country, large percentages of Black children cannot read. In rapidly gentrifying cities across America, Black families are disproportionately squeezed outside of the core where affordable housing is at a premium and distant from vital services. Disparities in healthcare, loan acceptance, employment, and the list goes on continue to exist.
With these irrefutable injustices looming over our lives, we simply don’t have the luxury of walking out of the voting booth feeling satisfied. We cannot be satisfied until we are paid our worth. We cannot be satisfied until 100 percent of our children read at or above grade level. We cannot be satisfied until we make sure policy makers and shakers see us in every decision.
Black women voted, now it’s up to all of us to make good on their vote. We must all honor their investment by following the news, questioning decisions that don’t pass the smell test, and offer praise and gratitude at the appropriate times. Let’s get our piece of the promise, sis.
And always stay woke.
Vesia Wilson-Hawkins is a former Metro Nashville Public Schools student, parent and staffer. She is a staunch advocate for the Black community, particularly as it relates to better public schools for youth. She blogs at Volume and Light and Education Post.