Thanks to the efforts of Black organizers and activists, the state of Georgia has made many historical wins regarding their recent Senate races. Notably, it’s been almost 30 years since Georgia was a blue state. Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won in their respective races, on Tuesday night, to tie the United States senate 50-50 between Demoract and Republican seats. This means when the Senate votes on important political issues, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will break ties if there is one, becoming the deciding factor on what policies get approved or thrown out.
Additionally, Rev. Warnock will be the first Black senator to represent Georgia, the eleventh Black senator overall to serve in America, and the second Black senator from the south since The Reconstruction Era. In his victory speech, Warnock acknowledged the historical significance of his win stating, “The other day, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.” In addition, 33-year-old Ossoff will be the youngest person to hold a seat in the senate since Joe Biden won Deleware in 1973 at 30-years-old.
Needless to say, Black women came through for the Democratic party. Again. As has been highlighted many times, Stacey Abrams has been fighting against voter suppression since her governor loss in 2018 and has since registered an estimated 800,000 Georgia citizens to vote. Stacey Abrams’ organization Fair Fight that emphasizes voter empowerment for Black people along with others such as Black Voters Matter, The New Georgia Project, and The People’s Agenda carefully and tirelessly strategized to advocate for Black voters in the south.
So, these monumental Democratic wins for Biden, Harris, Ossoff, and Warnock are a result of the groundwork Black people did, fighting to take back our democracy since Donald Trump’s unsavory presidential win in 2016. These major wins also further highlight how Black women are indeed the backbone of the Democratic Party as well as the importance of political groundwork, in-person interaction, and community care to progress the political framework of the American government.
Black organizers have been focused in Georgia for years before the rest of America invested attention in the state after it became a battleground in the 2020 presidential election. However, it’s been noted the way Black female political figures tend to become idealized by white Americans after the rest of the country can reap the benefits of Black women’s work.
For example, people praised Kamala Harris during her vice presidential debate with Mike Pence last October when she continuously asserted her will by not allowing him to speak over her. And people are now praising, in a hyper-romanticized sort of way, Stacey Abrams, similar to the way they did Kamala, for all of the work she’s done for the Democratic Party. The praise in itself isn’t the problem; however, it is uncloaking a pattern of behavior rooted in misogynoir.
It feels as though white people will only allot praise to Black women when our efforts are beneficial to them. Whereas Black women elsewhere still tend to get talked over, overlooked, and accused of being angry, difficult, or combative when we advocate for or defend ourselves. Abrams herself has denounced this sentiment of being a magical savior for the Democratic Party in a New York Times article stating, “I chafe at this idea that we then objectify one group as both [the] savior and as [the] responsible party.”
Democrats won those senate races in Georgia because Black women organizers and activists fought hard through voter suppression and historical disenfranchisement to ensure Black people’s voices were heard. Political efforts on the ground from Stacey Abrams, Felicia Davis, Helen Butler, Nsé Ufot, and other Black women across Southern states aided in numerous crucial Democratic wins. White liberals were ready to give up on Georgia when Abrams lost in 2018, but she stayed to fight the suppression that cost her the governor seat.
The many successes for Democrats are after years of racism, disenfranchisement, and oppression on the Black community. So, don’t romanticize our work, offer to support us instead.
Black people are often forced to move mountains with little resources. People must seek to financially support Black grassroots organizations, create or donate to scholarships for Black youth, and/or aid in investing in community care benefitting the Black community. Also, head how the Black women in your lives are treated. Uplift the voices of your Black female colleagues or friends when they need it. It’s likely that as you praise the likes of Abrams and Harris on social media for their strength, the Black women in your lives are being chastised for the same reasons.
Furthermore, Black women continue to do standout work in American politics, but we are also not your political work mules to be praised only when it benefits others. Rather, we are people who are oppressed and in search of freedom however we can get it. The best way to thank Stacey Abrams and other Black female organizers for their efforts is by continuously showing up and being an ally for Black people everywhere and in anyway way you can. As I’ve said before, the work of achieving true equality continues, and the road towards liberation will be made easier if and when we are all engaged in this work together.
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