Once again, black women came through to save our asses. This time, the sheroes turned out in Alabama to get Roy Moore out of the paint.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the rundown. Roy Moore is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and the Republican nominee for the United States Senate election in Alabama, which was left vacant after Jeff Sessions was appointed Attorney General of the United States.
Roy Moore came under scrutiny during the Senate race after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him by three women stating that he had sexually assaulted them as teenagers. One of them was as young as 14 years old. As if that’s not bad enough, Moore has attracted national attention for his strong homophobic, anti-Semitic, and Islamaphobic views to match his belief that Christianity should order public policy. Obviously, a guy like Roy Moore is the type of politician that Trump’s administration wants in Congress to continue pushing his agenda of social exclusion and an American society we so desperately worked to leave back in the 1960’s.
Leading up to election day, Roy Moore was expected to win a seat in Congress, despite the sexual assault allegations and his socially regressive views. However, Alabama’s black voters still managed to get him out the paint. A preliminary exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Poll showed that a very strong turnout from black voters played a key role in electing Doug Jones over Roy Moore. If the data is confirmed, the figures are a big deal due to Alabama being a state known for the strictest voter ID Laws of any state.
The data showed that of all the black women voters, 98% of them voted for Doug Jones. For black men voters, the number was 97%. Why are black women getting the credit if men voted strongly as well? Simply put, it’s black women who run the grassroots organizations and activating the community to get out and vote. On top of that, black women make up a larger percentage of Alabama’s population than black men. Without them, Roy Moore would’ve won the election.
The larger conversation here is that while Twitter is flooding black women with credit for saving the day once again, they don’t want a thank you. They want resources, money, and positions of power to create societal change that most of the time has everyone in mind. If black women can create movements like the Women’s March, and lead the charge online and in person to fight against an oppressive administration, then it’s time to empower them tangibly so they can continue their work on a larger scale. You don’t just congratulate powerful actions; you fuel the people responsible for those actions.
REVOLT spoke with Jamilah Lemieux, VP of Programming at Cassius about her views on the necessary empowerment of black women across the board, not just in politics.
What is your stance on the need for black women to be politically empowered in a tangible way?
I think that both Democrats and Independents need to do a better job of identifying black female candidates for office. We’re underrepresented, but it’s not due to lack of ability or intelligence. In places like Atlanta, I find it strange that it was such a close race. Not to say Keisha should’ve been a landslide, but a [man] wouldn’t have had the same battle or a conservative white woman.
It’s also helpful to donate money and time to organizations who work with female candidates like Higher Heights, which provides strategy to expand and support Black women’s leadership. People can also challenge organizations like Emily’s List to be more diverse in their support and development of female candidates.
In general, supporting black women is necessary across all industries and is not just limited to politics. It’s important to note that many of the people making comments with regard to black women needing resources and support work in environments outside of politics.
When was the last time you’ve hired a black woman as producer or director? That goes for any field. Often times opportunities are denied to us due to race and gender. Trusting black women doesn’t mean looking to black women to save institutions that don’t cater to us. Black women voted for our own self-interest to protect ourselves and our families. Even when we are lacking passion about a candidate, we understand that these elections have consequences.
The internet has given a voice to misrepresented communities, playing a significant role in forcing industries like entertainment to be more inclusive and respectful about honoring the accomplishments of more than just White America. As the FCC prepares to destroy net neutrality, Jamilah shared her thoughts on how the internet and social media is necessary for black women’s fight for amplification and support.
“The fight to protect net neutrality is so incredibly urgent for black women because the internet gave us a microphone for important voices, thoughts, and ideas. The more difficult it is to access that, the harder it will be to be heard,” Lemieux said. “Cream rises to the top unless something is there to prevent it. Black women have the sharpest, clearest, most insightful voices on the internet. That’s why we dominate certain conversations and we see that people look to our jokes and pacts for making social platforms better. They draw inspiration that is not credited back to us nor are we compensated for. Part of the reason that people want to take away the internet is beyond money. It’s about people wanting to silence certain voices.”
As the citizens of our nation continue to mold our country into the image promoted to us that is equal and fair, we must hit the gas on more conversation that can lead to action. Black women are an incredibly necessary part of the puzzle, and we’re seeing it now more than ever.